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Preliminary findings fault Entergy for power outages

The Associated Press 3/13/00 7:14 AM

LITTLE ROCK (AP) -- Entergy Corp. could have been better prepared for the events that caused it to cut electricity to 550,000 customers during a hot summer day, according to the initial findings of a government task force.

A Department of Energy group says the New Orleans-based utility misjudged the reliability of its power plants, waited too long to ask customers to conserve electricity and depended too heavily on unreliable sources of reserve power.

Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson formed the task force last summer to examine power failures throughout the eastern half of the nation. The group is expected to release a final version of its findings today, including recommendations for Entergy and other utilities to prevent future crises.

An estimated 80,000 Entergy customers in Arkansas lost power for 30-minute periods July 23. Entergy power outages also occurred in three other states.

Entergy officials say they resorted to the rotating blackouts to maintain the stability of the electric system and prevent even more widespread, prolonged blackouts.

Company leaders say they took appropriate steps to prepare and couldn't have foreseen the events that led to the blackouts, such as near-simultaneous failures at several generating plants and a seasonal heatwave that dried up the wholesale power market.

Nonetheless, the company says it has taken steps to better prepare for this summer and to address most findings in the federal Power Outage Study Team report.

Copyright 2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

-- (, March 13, 2000

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