Duke Energy estimates 750,000 customers could lose power in Carolinas due to approaching winter storm; company ready to respond

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Jan. 15, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Duke Energy today said the hazardous wintry precipitation from this weekend’s approaching winter storm could cause an estimated 750,000 customers to lose power in North Carolina and South Carolina, based on the storm’s current forecasted track, and power outages in some of the hardest-hit areas could last several days.

In advance of the storm, which could span two days, Duke Energy has strategically staged more than 10,000 workers – power line technicians, damage assessors and vegetation workers – across the Carolinas. About 4,100 of those workers are from other companies, some based in Texas and Oklahoma.

The more than 10,000 total workers also include Duke Energy crews normally based in Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky who have traveled to the Carolinas to assist North Carolina– and South Carolina-based Duke Energy workers. All crews are ready to begin power restoration as soon as weather conditions safely allow.

Ice-buildup on trees and branches that causes them to fall on power lines is usually the main culprit behind power outages during a winter storm. Specifically, ice buildup of a quarter-inch or more is often the threshold amount that causes trees and branches to topple.

The heavy weight of significant ice buildup directly on power lines themselves can sometimes cause the lines to fall or sag, as well. Heavy, wet snow of six inches or more also can cause trees and branches to fall on power lines.

Duke Energy meteorologists continue to monitor weather conditions and the company is making plans accordingly. Travel conditions could be hazardous and challenging after the storm passes, possibly delaying Duke Energy crews’ ability to access hard-hit areas to assess storm damage and begin power restoration.

Following the storm, as conditions permit, damage assessment crews will begin assessing extent of damage – which can sometimes take 24 hours or more in major storms with widespread damage and hazardous driving conditions.

Damage assessments determine the types of crews, equipment and supplies needed to restore power. 

Power restoration crews will begin working immediately after the storm, but restoration efficiency improves as damage assessment information is available to ensure the right workers and materials are dispatched to each power outage location.

Duke Energy will provide estimated power restoration times to customers once damage assessments are completed. The company also will provide regular updates to customers and communities through emails, text messages, outbound phone calls, social media and its website, which includes power outage maps.

The company is working closely with state officials in both North Carolina and South Carolina to prepare for the storm.

Duke Energy serves 4.3 million customers in the Carolinas – 3.5 million in North Carolina; 800,000 in South Carolina.

Duke Energy’s power restoration process

More information about how crews restore power after a major storm – restoration process.

How customers can prepare

Customers can take steps now to prepare for the storm:

  • Ensure an adequate supply of flashlights, batteries, bottled water, non-perishable foods, medicines, etc., as well as the availability of a portable, battery-operated radio, TV or weather radio.
  • Customers should make alternate shelter arrangements as needed if you will be significantly impacted by a loss of power – especially families who have special medical needs or elderly members.
  • If a power line falls across a car that you’re in, stay in the car. If you MUST get out of the car due to a fire or other immediate life-threatening situation, do your best to jump clear of the car and land on both feet. Be sure that no part of your body is touching the car when your feet touch the ground.
  • Be aware that snow can cause hazardous driving conditions resulting in traffic accidents and downed power poles resulting in isolated outages. If you are driving and encounter emergency responders or other roadside work crews, remember to MOVE OVER.
  • If you use a generator due to a power outage, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure safe and proper operation. Operate your generator outside; never operate it inside a building or garage.
  • Don’t use grills or other outdoor appliances or equipment indoors for space heating or cooking, as these devices may emit carbon monoxide.
  • Stay away from power lines that have fallen or are sagging. Consider all lines energized as well as trees or limbs in contact with lines. Please report downed power lines to Duke Energy or local emergency services.
  • Be prepared for an emergency by purchasing an emergency preparedness kit from the Red Cross.

More tips on what to do before, during and after a storm can be found at duke-energy.com/safety-and-preparedness/storm-safety. A checklist serves as a helpful guide, but it’s critical before, during and after a storm to follow the instructions and warnings of emergency management officials in your area.

Shelter information

If you lose power and need to relocate to a shelter, the Red Cross maintains an update-to-date list of open locations – https://www.redcross.org/get-help/disaster-relief-and-recovery-services/find-an-open-shelter.html.

Follow CDC recommendations for staying safe and healthy in a public disaster shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How to protect refrigerated food during power outages

For customers who lose power and have full refrigerators and freezers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends the following:

  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. 
  • A refrigerator can keep food cold for about four hours if it is unopened. If the power will be out for more than four hours, use coolers to keep refrigerated food cold.
  • A full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.

The FDA offers additional tips for proper food handling and storage before, during and after a power outage at www.fda.gov/food/buy-store-serve-safe-food/food-and-water-safety-during-power-outages-and-floods.

Sign up for outage alerts

Customers can receive the most up-to-date information about power restoration efforts by enrolling in Outage Alerts.

How to report power outages

Customers who experience a power outage can report the outage using Duke Energy’s automated outage-reporting systems for their respective utility:

  • Customers can report an outage by texting “OUT” to 57801, and also report an outage or view current outages on the Duke Energy mobile app or at www.duke-energy.com/outages
  • Duke Energy Carolinas: 1.800.POWERON (1.800.769.3766)
  • Duke Energy Progress: 1.800.419.6356

Duke Energy also will provide updates on its social media channels to keep customers informed if significant outages occur:

View B-roll of storm preparations and winter storm power restoration efforts

Duke Energy

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of America’s largest energy holding companies. Its electric utilities serve 7.9 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, and collectively own 51,000 megawatts of energy capacity. Its natural gas unit serves 1.6 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The company employs 27,500 people.

Duke Energy is executing an aggressive clean energy strategy to create a smarter energy future for its customers and communities – with goals of at least a 50% carbon reduction by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The company is a top U.S. renewable energy provider, on track to own or purchase 16,000 megawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2025. The company also is investing in major electric grid upgrades and expanded battery storage, and exploring zero-emitting power generation technologies such as hydrogen and advanced nuclear.

Duke Energy was named to Fortune’s 2021 “World’s Most Admired Companies” list and Forbes’ “America’s Best Employers” list. More information is available at duke-energy.com. The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos and videos. Duke Energy’s illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on TwitterLinkedInInstagram and Facebook.

Media contact: 800.559.3853

SOURCE Duke Energy



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