The award, being given for the first time, recognized CP&L for the company's storm plan implementation before, during and after Hurricane Bonnie, which battered CP&L's eastern N.C. service area for several days in August with heavy rains and winds of up to 115 mph.
CP&L President and CEO Bill Cavanaugh accepted the award today at a meeting of electric industry CEOs.
EEI President Thomas Kuhn said that CP&L has turned adverse conditions into an asset for the company and its customers.
"CP&L employees have turned themselves into experts in dealing with natural disasters," Kuhn said. "They don't wait until disaster happens before organizing their response. They mobilize at the slightest hint of trouble. By the time Bonnie hit, CP&L had already called in neighboring utilities and contractors. As the storm moved, crews followed and repaired damage. They are among the most important assets their community has in bringing life back to normal after disaster strikes."
Among the company's innovative approaches cited by EEI are the use of helicopters and statistical sampling to make faster damage assessments.
At its peak, Hurricane Bonnie left nearly a quarter-million CP&L customers without power and affected three-quarters of CP&L's customers in coastal and eastern areas. In addition to about 1,000 miles of power lines that needed repair, the Brunswick Nuclear Plant was shut down for several days, as required by its operating license, due to the proximity of the storm.
A combined CP&L/contract work force of three times the normal contingent helped restore service quickly to affected areas, even as the storm created additional damage along its northward path. Most customers had power within 48 hours of losing it.
During the course of the storm and its aftermath, CP&L's Customer Service Center handled 172,000 customer calls.
CP&L, which has responded to damage from three major hurricanes and numerous ice storms in the last three years, was one of 10 utilities from across the country chosen to receive the award.