West Memphis Utility tackles power outages

West Memphis Utility tackles power outages

Substation issues leave residents in the dark


The east side of West Memphis endured on-again and off-again electric service for the entire week beginning last Thursday including the Memorial Day weekend. West Memphis Utilities Electrical Superintendent Foster Rash reported the spotty service to the Utilities Commission June 2.

Rash said the problems had been identified and working out a permanent fix was in progress. The trouble spot was Entergy’s Gateway Substation on Mound City Road near the levee. West Memphis gets a power feed from that location. Two separate incidents there triggered a string of outages interrupting the electrical supply to city commercial and residential customers in an area on the east end.

“It feeds the truck stops and most of the east side up to Ingram Boulevard,” said Rash. “It has two breakers out of it.”

It all started more than a week ago, when a bird flew into the works and tripped some breakers. Then a suspected lightning strike on Memorial Day set off a sec­ond round of outages.

“Entergy has had problems with its subs,” said Rash.

“Thursday we had an outage that knocked our breakers out and they tripped theirs. Their sub had a flash over. It took two hours to get it back on.”

A second set of problems erupted Monday and moved right down the line.

“Memorial Day was due to lightning during the day,” said Rash. “It was back on after an hour. Last night (Wednesday, June 1) we had another outage at the same place, the same station that feeds us.”

Rash reported that Entergy was now engaged in a permanent fix at the site and that West Memphis service was rerouted through the Polk St. substation to assist with the effort.

“They are working on the regulator right now,” said Rash. “They have a portable regulator coming from Little Rock in case they don’t get the transformers on line. They have a breaker with unregulated voltage, if it heats up they will have to take it off line.”

Rash pointed out a reroute through the city lines to keep the east side powered up.

“Our plan, at the Polk Street Substation” said Rash, “we’ve got it on two breakers. If it gets near overload we’ll switch and put them on other breakers to split the load up.”

By John Rech