AEP-SWEPCO again suspends rolling blackouts, prepares for ice storm that’s threatening ArkLaTex

Some customers use planned outages as a dry run for what could be days without electricity

AEP-SWEPCO again suspends rolling blackouts, prepares for ice storm that’s threatening ArkLaTex
KSLA News 12 Chief Meteorologist Jeff Castle says the next winter storm threatens to dump a devastating quarter inch to half inch of ice on parts of the ArkLaTex. It only takes about a quarter-inch of ice to start causing problems. With accumulations of a half-inch, tree branches break, fall on utility lines and cause power outages.

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — Thousands of AEP-SWEPCO customers were without electricity as temperatures continued to hover in the 20s with wind chills in the teens Tuesday afternoon.

Most of those power outages were the work of the ongoing winter storm, which saw temperatures drop into the single digits with wind chills below zero overnight.

Other outages Tuesday morning were rolling blackouts that the utility resumed in an effort to help keep the electrical grid from failing and, in doing so, putting many more residences and businesses in the dark and possibly for much longer periods of time.

As of 10:30 a.m., AEP-SWEPCO said it again had stopped temporarily interrupting power to parts of its territory.

“Depending on the demand for energy and supply available for our customers, we may temporarily interrupt power again,” says a post on the utility’s Facebook page. “We appreciate your patience and understanding. Let’s work together to reduce our electricity use.”

Many of AEP-SWEPCO’s more than 527,000 customers in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas have endured those planned blackouts during which electrical service is interrupted for hours at a time.

Some people tell KSLA News 12 that they understand that the inconvenience posed by the pre-emptive outages is for the greater good.

And some have treated the relatively short disruptions in service as a warm-up for what could be days without power as another wintry storm, this one with the threat of more ice than snow, bears down on the ArkLaTex.

Just off Sligo Road, in far south Bossier City, we met SWEPCO customer Tammie Sharp.

Her power had just been restored after those hours-long rotating - or rolling - blackouts as a way to help protect the electric grid in 14 states.

Sharp says she’ll be in good shape but worries about others living in older mobile homes.

“My trailer’s insulated really, really well. But for most of the people who do live in trailers, I don’t have a problem with it but if I did have a regular trailer it would be freezing cold in there. It’d be better outside than it would be inside the trailer.”

Tammie Sharp is among the people we met who hopes the public will check on friends, family and neighbors once the ice storm hits, making sure they have enough supplies and reliable heat.

She’s far from alone. Retired U.S. Marine Larry Jackson says he worries about people having enough supplies.

“Hopefully, they’ve already stocked up. I went into the stores this morning and they’re pretty low on a lot of things, especially bread.”

And that fast-ice and snow storm could knock out power to tens if not hundreds of thousands of power customers in this part of the country.

Larry Jackson says he has a generator ready to go, and is as prepared as you can get for severe winter weather storm.

We met some SWEPCO customers who described what will be the toughest challenge should the lights go off.

In fact, It didn’t take long for customers like Serena Dunn to wrap off her worst case scenario.

“We’re over here in this little trailer park. So, losing water. All of our water pipes are frozen. I work from home. So, I haven’t been able to work for two days because either the internet’s out or the power’s out.”

RELATED:

Copyright 2021 KSLA. All rights reserved.