Relentless weather and power outages could affect utility bills

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - Weekend storms have kept Entergy crews busy, with nearly a thousand utility workers sprawled across Arkansas restoring power from just this weekend's storms. It's a constant battle the state's largest electric utility has been facing this year, costing a pretty penny. Lodging, trucks, fuel and more are provided to crews trekking in from neighboring states like Mississippi and Texas to help Arkansas crews repair power lines across the state. The storms keep coming and rolling through the state, knocking out power to those in its path. "It's just relentless," said Julie Munsell, spokesperson for Entergy. Relentless doesn't just describe this weekend's storms. For Entergy crews it seems as if it's been non-stop since this winter's ice and snow. "You get done repairing facilities and another one comes along," said Munsell. "From winter ice storms right into the spring tornadoes and now here we are with summertime storms, so it's been kind of a constant recovery, not just for our workforce but for the communities too." Thousands of crews from out-of-state this year have been called in to help quickly restore power to those without, but it comes at a cost. "The sort of cumulative total is well over $100-million," said Munsell. Entergy maintains a storm reserve fund for situations like extreme power outages that leave customers in the dark for days, but the bad news, Munsell said, "with weather patterns like this, we've already exceeded that reserve." Meaning whatever cost, with a check-in with rate regulators, may end up on your bill. "It's possible to recover that from customers," said Munsell. "It's just not part of our day-to-day operations; it's something that mother nature dictates and we all have to adapt to."