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Many go without electricity for hours during planned outages in our area

SWEPCO says these outages are at the direction of the Southwest Power Pool that manages the grid.

FAYETTEVILLE, Arkansas — Many people in our area were left in the cold and dark Tuesday (Feb. 16) after electric companies had planned outages in an effort to lessen the strain on the power grid that’s been working through subzero temperatures.

“It’s really frustrating,” said Courtney Greene. 

Greene is one of the many Southwestern Electric Power Co.(SWEPCO) customers who lost power Tuesday as part of the planned outages. 

“I’m also working from home, so I can’t even work right now," she said. "I have a daughter and she’s starting to get super cold. We’re doing the best we can. We’re trying to stay bundled up and we’re trying to make it through this."

Greene’s electricity first went off at 7:30 Tuesday morning. First, she heard it would come back on at 9:30 a.m., then 11:30 a.m. She didn’t get power back until late Tuesday afternoon. 

“I don’t agree with shutting off everybody’s power, especially with the elderly and then the mom’s or dad’s staying home with the babies and then a lot of people have been working from home and it’s been a real struggle the last few days,” she said. 

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Almost all power companies in our area have had some planned outages Tuesday. Peter Main with SWEPCO says these outages are at the direction of the Southwest Power Pool that manages the grid.

“We do it in multiple locations and we try to limit that to a couple of hours and then rotate it from one location to the next so that we minimize the impact on anyone group of customers,” Main said. 

If you’re wondering how the location of the outages is chosen, it’s all in the numbers. The Southwest Power Pool gives the electric providers a total amount. 

Main says they have their total energy needs by electric circuit for their entire service area, so they have to select the circuits that add up to the total amount. 

“We have to select the number of circuits that adds up to that total amount of electric need. We also do it with an eye toward not including hospitals, medical facilities and police and fire,” he said. 

SWEPCO says it doesn't know for sure if there will be more planned outages this week. All the electric companies have to wait to hear from the Southwest Power Pool. 

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RELATED: More rolling outages planned by utility companies Tuesday - Click here for outage maps