AEP Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) is prepared for winter storms across its service territory. SWEPCO has an emergency preparedness team at the Shreveport, La.-based Distribution Dispatch Center that continuously monitors winter storm conditions in the company’s Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas service areas. SWEPCO work crews are on standby alert for power restoration efforts.
SWEPCO’s power outage report number is 1-888-218-3919, available 24 hours a day. Customers also can report outages online and on mobile devices at SWEPCO.com. Customers can look for outage updates on SWEPCO.com and Facebook.com/SWEPCO.
If an outage is isolated to your home only and does not impact your neighborhood, check their house breakers to make sure they are in the “on” position before calling SWEPCO. Also, there are multiple utility cables attached to poles. Electric power lines are usually the highest ones on a pole, while TV and telephone cables are attached at a lower level. This may help you identify which company to call to report any safety concerns.
SWEPCO customers are encouraged to have blankets, flashlights, bottled water, portable radios and TVs, and a supply of fresh batteries on hand if the power should go off due to inclement winter weather. SWEPCO will call out crews to identify and repair the problem as quickly and safely as possible. SWEPCO’s primary concern during storm restoration is safety for the public and its employees. If customers should see a hazardous condition such as a fallen power line or broken equipment, or if safety in general is in doubt, stay away, keep others back, and call SWEPCO’s customer service number at 1-888-216-3523, or the local police immediately to report the situation.
“Winter storms can do extensive damage to our electrical system,” says Malcolm Smoak, SWEPCO’s VP – distribution region operations in Shreveport. “The combination of ice build-up, snow, high winds and heavy rains can often lead to uprooted trees or broken limbs on power lines.” SWEPCO anticipates the increased workload and mobilizes crews to potential affected areas.
“The distribution and transmission dispatch area tracks all restoration efforts in order to provide updated information for the public with daily reports through the local news media,” says David Milford, manager of transmission dispatch operations. “The company’s Customer Operations Center (COC) is staffed around the clock to take power outage calls from concerned customers,” says Linda Cosby, COC manager for SWEPCO.
Tree crews across the area are prepared to respond to adverse weather conditions. “Our contract tree crews are available for immediate access when needed in winter storms,” says Danny Salter, SWEPCO forestry manager. “SWEPCO has a comprehensive storm manual that addresses tree trimming issues, and the removal and trimming of many trees annually helps prevent some potential power outage situations.”
SWEPCO’s primary objective in its Emergency Restoration Plan is to restore electric service to all customers as safely and quickly as possible, and provide timely and accurate updated information to customers affected by service interruptions. “An orderly, well-coordinated approach to service restoration is needed since ice storms and other extreme weather conditions can cause widespread damage,” says Anthony Zeno, SWEPCO emergency restoration director.
In major power outages, SWEPCO’s first priorities are damage assessment and restoration of power to critical customers, such as hospitals, emergency services, major communications facilities, water supply systems and customers on life support equipment. “Our crews must repair major electric lines which serve hundreds or thousands of customers before they can repair scattered outages,” says Smoak. “We begin working as soon as possible in an efficient manner to identify and repair these problems in the field.”
SWEPCO serves 530,000 customers in western Arkansas, north and central Louisiana, and in eastern and northern Texas.