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February 2021 Rolling Blackouts Q&A

Thanks to everyone for your patience and understanding as we deal with unprecedented circumstances regarding potential service interruptions.  Please know that this could change at any moment and we will alert you as we receive instructions from our generation provider.

We wanted to try to answer a few questions.

How did this happen?

Like all utility companies, Craighead Electric receives its energy from generation facilities. We buy from a mix of resources so that we are not reliant on a single source. In our generation portfolio we use hydroelectric, coal, natural gas, solar and wind. The extreme cold temperatures are having an impact on each source. For example – many wind turbines in Kansas and Oklahoma are frozen; snow and ice are covering solar panels; natural gas providers are experiencing interrupted supply; and coal plants are having difficulty using frozen coal which is slowing the production process.

Why did this happen at night and why couldn’t it have been done during the day?

Craighead Electric’s retail transmission operator, alerted us as soon as there was an issue with peak demand and asked us to begin curtailment. This could happen at any time of the day or night and we are given little warning time. It is only done in emergency situations as a last resort. We must comply with the curtailment to prevent longer, widespread uncontrolled outages. This is a mandatory directive given to us that we are compelled to follow.

Why didn’t you just turn off power for businesses?

Craighead Electric’s load curtailment plan was developed at a state-wide level to comply with emergency constraints on generation resources or the transmission grid. This plan starts with curtailing load on interruptible accounts that are large commercial and industrial loads – followed by residential and small commercial services. Even with our large commercial accounts curtailing load, we were forced to potentially implement the residential and small business curtailment last night.

What about turning off street lights?

Street lights are a very small percent of our electric demand and do not make up enough of the demand to conserve energy. Street lights also have sensors that allow them to turn off during the day which saves on energy. We also do not have the ability to remotely turn off street lights so it would take more time and effort than the amount of energy it would save.

Why doesn’t this happen in the summer?

Arkansas is experiencing an unprecedented, historic weather event. Your home’s heating unit is working very hard to keep your home at your desired temperature. The greater the difference between the outdoor temperature to the desired indoor temperature means your heating unit is working harder and using more power than your air conditioner would in the summer. Arkansas’s generation facilities are more accustomed to providing energy load during our hot and humid summers. This week’s historic event is causing high peak demand that has never been seen.

How will rolling outages impact my pipes, medical devices, health and safety?

While we cannot give our members much advance notice on when or where the rolling outages will occur, the outages will not last longer than 60 minutes to have as minimal impact as possible on plumbing, medical devices, health and safety. Scheduled outages will be spread across our service territory so that no one area has multiple curtailment in a row. Please understand that weather and other issues may cause outages that are different from controlled rolling outages.

We hope this information is helpful. Again, we thank you for your patience. Please know we are doing everything we can to keep power reliable. If we are mandated to begin service interruptions by our generation facility, we will alert you as soon as we possibly can with as much information as we are provided. Thank you again. Stay warm and be safe!