Electric utility cooperatives from all across the country have been working diligently for over two weeks trying to get North Arkansas Electric Cooperative members back on the grid.
Things seem to be looking up. From the estimated 20,000 members without power last week, NAEC has been able to go down to 7,000 members without power, according to their estimates on Feb. 10.
As of Feb. 10, NAEC reported 3,100 members were without power in District 1, which includes areas west of Norfork Lake; 2,000 in District 2, which includes areas east of Norfork Lake to Glencoe; and 1,900 in District 3, which includes areas from Horseshoe Bend to Glencoe and east to Ravenden.
NAEC CEO Mel Coleman said, rain is in the forecast for next week and he warns that this might cause additional outages.
NAEC continues to update its list on where crews are working on their Web site, www.naeci.com for those who have Internet access. According to NAEC, the list is for informational purposes only and people should not venture out to find these crews and ask them questions about their power situation.
Some members who don't have power have noticed that their neighbors do. "Everyone should understand that even neighbors can be fed from different circuits. The physics of a utility's system dictates how power is restored," according to NAEC.
As power continues to be restored, NAEC recommends residents turn off generators and throw breakers to well pumps and water heaters if residents are planning to leave their home. The reason for this is to prevent any accidents that may occur if the power were to be restored while the home owner is away. Though generators are a good temporary power source, they can cause back-feeding in the lines and can potentially harm or kill utility workers. For many, the cost of having electricity in their homes is not worth risking anyone's life. NAEC recommends hiring an electrician to properly install a generator. Those who have noticed utility crews working close to their homes may want to consider turning off their generators just in case there is some back-feeding. Generators should also be kept in a well-ventilated area to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
"I am extremely pleased with the progress we made this weekend (Feb. 7 and 8)," Coleman said. "We are very encouraged by the numbers, but our main goal continues to be those still without power. Our broken pole count has been revised upward to an estimate of around 2,200. Members must realize that our system took 75 years to build and these crews are attempting to rebuild much of it in a matter of weeks. No matter what the circumstances, we will not quit working until every one of our members has power."