Most residents of the Viola and Elizabeth areas may have noticed for quite some time new transformers waiting on the ground to be put up.
According to Jerry Estes, director of North Arkansas Electric Cooperative in Salem, the cooperative "increased the primary voltage on the lines." Estes said they had to double the voltage from 7,200 to 14,400.
The four-year $500,000 plan "should provide a more consistent voltage in the house," Estes said.
When there is more growth in the community Estes said the transformers tend to not provide as much voltage. By phasing out the old transformers, people at the end of the lines will have better service.
Many of the new transformers were left on the ground for several months. Estes said before the transformers are changed out, there is still a lot of work to do. Linemen and other cooperative workers had to change the insulators and the lines to support the added voltage. During the wait, Estes said the cooperative lost a few transformers when the price of scrap metal increased, but he said laying the transformers down in people's yard early saved a lot of time.
Now, NAEC is working on getting the transformers up and running. Near the end of July, NAEC had to turn the power off in the town of Elizabeth for about five hours. "We had to bring over people from our Mountain Home and Ash Flat offices to help with that," Estes said.
The NAEC had to call all the residents of Elizabeth the day before to warn them about the power outage. Estes said, "We can't announce a week ahead that we're going to shut the power down because we don't know what the weather is going to do."
Because of this problem NAEC is working on a mass calling system for all of its members. "We would really appreciate it if people would notify us of their phone number," Estes said. Along with notifying people when the power is going to be down, the system will also warn people of extreme weather.
Though NAEC had about 1,000 transformers to change out, they still have about 200 to go. Cooperative workers will work on Viola north to Vidette, Moko, Wiesman area and Brockwell to Calico Rock. Estes also said they are almost finished upgrading in the Henderson area.
Aug. 16 the cooperative shut off power from the entire substation in Viola for about three hours. This power outage effected residents from Hand Cove Road to Viola, Elizabeth, Mitchell and Vidette.
Estes said, "I know it's time consuming and inconvenient to members, but we're doing this to provide a better service."