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Keeping the lights on for more than a century


Entergy Arkansas employees take pride in providing reliable service

When the power goes out, restoring it shines a spotlight on utility workers who jump into action, working to assess damage and make repairs as quickly as possible. It can be a difficult task, and one that Entergy Arkansas employees take pride in doing safely and successfully.

As Entergy Arkansas celebrates its 110th anniversary this year, lineworkers paused to reflect on the history of restoring power to customers throughout the state and beyond.

“The organization and logistics behind our storm bosses and crews is phenomenal. It all boils down to commitment by the workforce and their leaders. I have seen our response improve with each storm we encounter,” said Area Substation Supervisor David Dean, who has been with Entergy Arkansas over 41 years.

From tornadoes and ice storms to hurricanes and lightning storms, Arkansas has had its share of weather-related outages over the years. And no two storms are the same.

“Storm restoration has always been a dangerous time for utility workers and will continue to be for those to come. What I have seen on restorations is the detailed processes that have dramatically increased safety awareness,” Dean said.

Helping wherever needed

Through mutual assistance agreements, Entergy Arkansas crews go anywhere they are needed. Earlier this year, more than 80 workers went to Kentucky to restore power after storms caused major destruction.

Cory Culp, a serviceman who has worked in the industry for 27 years, was among those who went to Kentucky. As he was headed out, he took a few minutes to share some of the more memorable work trips he has had.

“The farthest I’ve gone is probably Tampa. We started in Meridian, Mississippi and worked our way all the way to Tampa. That took about 2 weeks,” Culp said.

Some trips created funny memories as well.

“Once we were working somewhere in East Arkansas, and we went to a little restaurant in a small town. I guess we overwhelmed them because there were so many of us that the cook quit,” he recalled.

The waitress told the workers if they wanted to eat, they’d have to cook it themselves. So, that’s exactly what they did – taking orders, cooking and serving the meals to the tables.   

Another memorable trip was when he was working in Texas after Hurricane Harvey. A substation had flooded, and Culp was tasked with leading the effort to restore power in one community.

“They flew in parts on a helicopter for us that day,” he said. “We did it all in one afternoon. From noon until five o’clock, we built the whole thing and got the town back on. That was pretty neat.”

With so many years of service, Dean has even more stories.

“There is one that has stuck with me since Hurricane Katrina,” Dean said. “We had been scouting the distribution circuits for days on end when this elderly couple stopped my partner and me as we were turning around. She had been trying to contact someone for days,” he explained. “They wanted to know  why their power hadn’t come back when every single one around them had power. We had been scouting for that very reason and found a couple of trees were on a long lateral feed through the woods.

“We were able to get assistance from a vegetation crew to clear that up and get that one customer back,” he said. “They were so appreciative on something that during normal circumstances is just routine to the distribution line crews.”

Culp said one thing he and his crews sometimes do is a victory lap when they restore power to a neighborhood. It makes the crews feel good, as well as the customers.

“People come out and say thanks. They appreciate it,” he said. “I mean, it’s a blessing to be able to go and do something like that.”

It takes a special person to do what these guys do, and they consider themselves fortunate to be able to do it.

“It only seems like yesterday when I started in 1981. The technology it takes to do our everyday job has changed from manual, analog devices to power computers,” he said. “I am envious of the next generation of (workers), who will be working and learning all of the new ways to do things. I’ll even miss the excitement that comes with power restoration.”

“My career has been very rewarding and challenging, and I will miss my Entergy family whenever I do decide to retire. I hope they feel the same way I do about Entergy.”

Arkansas Editorial Team