Skip Navigation
Select Location:
PrintRateShare

Press Release

04/17/2011

More than 1,000 workers take aim on tornado damage in N.C.; Restoration efforts expected to take multiple days in some areas

For more storm information or to view Progress Energy’s online outage map, visit www.progress-energy.com/storm. Get the latest storm updates by following Progress Energy on Twitter.

__________________________________________________________________________

RALEIGH, N.C. (April 17, 2011 – 10 a.m.) – Progress Energy Carolinas crews have restored service to more than 240,000 customers who lost power as a result of Saturday’s multiple bands of powerful tornadoes and storms across the Carolinas. And more than 1,000 line workers and tree crews are working to repair and rebuild infrastructure that, in some cases, disappeared in the tornadoes.

Crews restored service through the night, reducing the outage total from a peak of more than 220,000 at 4 p.m. Saturday to about 78,000 customers still without power across the region at 9 a.m. today. Due to the rolling nature of the storms, workers were able to restore service in some areas even as storms were causing damage in other areas. Overall, more than 300,000 customers have been affected by the storms.

Hardest-hit areas, where outage numbers remain high, were those that sustained direct tornado touchdowns, including parts of Wake, Harnett, Johnston, Cumberland, Robeson, Lee, Onslow counties and numerous other locations.

The storms toppled thousands of trees, hundreds of power poles and more than 30 high-voltage transmission line structures across the state, impeding power to a number of electric substations. Damage in some areas requires special equipment.

Repair work is complicated by debris strewn across roadways, non-functioning traffic lights and traffic congestion. Progress Energy joins law enforcement officials in urging residents to stay off the roads as much as possible to allow rescue and repair vehicles to move more quickly.

Progress Energy crews are using helicopters to assess major damage to transmission lines, substations and other infrastructure in central and eastern North Carolina. Based on preliminary estimates, the company expects the vast majority of customers to be restored by midnight Monday. In some devastated areas – where workers must rebuild parts of the system – restoration will likely extend into Tuesday.

The company will provide more detailed estimated restoration times later today, as workers are able to make a complete assessment across thousands of square miles of damage. In addition to the normal complement of about 600 company and contract workers in the central and eastern part of the state, Progress Energy continues to bring in crews from other parts of the company’s service area (where damage was less significant), from neighboring states and from Duke Energy in the western region of North Carolina. The company also has several hundred employees working in support roles as planners, damage assessors, crew guides, customer service representatives, government liaisons and other functions.

Downed lines can be extremely dangerous and Progress Energy urges customers to take steps to protect their safety:

  • Never go near downed power lines. Always assume they are energized and extremely dangerous. Never attempt to drive over a downed power line.
  • Power lines can often become entangled in limbs or hidden by debris. Use extreme caution when removing limbs or debris to ensure that no power lines are present.
  • Customers who see downed power lines should contact Progress Energy at 1.800.419.6356.

To report an outage

Customers who experience an outage should call Progress Energy’s automated outage reporting line at 1.800.419.6356. Progress Energy’s automated outage reporting system is capable of handling more than 120,000 calls per hour. Entering your phone number or Progress Energy account number ensures that Progress Energy knows about your outage and will capture that information in the company’s restoration plans. Customers can also request a call back when service is restored.

Restoring service

Progress Energy is working to restore service to customers as quickly and safely as possible. After severe weather, crews take specific steps to restore power. Progress Energy crews first assess damage and determine what crews, equipment and supplies will be needed to make repairs.

The first repair priorities are the transmission lines, high-voltage lines that deliver electricity from power plants to substations. Without these lines, power cannot be delivered to customers. Also vital are substations, which reduce the voltage of electricity so power can be delivered to houses and businesses.

Once transmission lines and substations can again deliver power, Progress Energy assigns priority to lines that serve hospitals, police departments, emergency services and other facilities that are essential to public health and safety. Other restoration is prioritized by repairs that affect the largest number of customers. For example, a repair serving 200 customers is completed before a repair serving five customers. This is the quickest way to restore power to the most customers.

Safety First

Progress Energy’s first priority is the safety of its crews. Customers are encouraged to help keep crews safe by moving their vehicle over or slowing down when passing utility trucks parked along the side of the road. It’s not just a good idea, it’s the law.

For more storm information or to view Progress Energy’s online outage map, visit www.progress-energy.com/storm.

Generator safety

Customers who use generators are reminded to always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and instructions. Never use a generator indoors or in an attached garage, to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. For more safety information on generator use, visit www.progress-energy.com/storm.

Customers with electrical damage to their home

Customers who have experienced electrical damage to their home – such as damage to a weatherhead or meter base – and are in need a reputable electrician, may contact Progress Energy for referral through its Electrical Contractor Network (ECN).  Interested customers should call 1-888-999-8856 and select option #4.  Each contractor dispatched has met certain criteria: professional and personal background check, insurance requirements, licensed, must carry photo ID in the field, and must be safety trained.  Customers needing repairs who are enrolled on Progress Energy’s HomeWIRE Service will receive half off the cost of the repair up to $250. 

Progress Energy (NYSE: PGN), headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., is a Fortune 500 energy company with more than 22,000 megawatts of generation capacity and approximately $10 billion in annual revenues. Progress Energy includes two major electric utilities that serve about 3.1 million customers in the Carolinas and Florida. The company has earned the Edison Electric Institute's Edison Award, the industry's highest honor, in recognition of its operational excellence, and was the first utility to receive the prestigious J.D. Power and Associates Founder's Award for customer service. The company is pursuing a balanced strategy for a secure energy future, which includes aggressive energy-efficiency programs, investments in renewable energy technologies and a state-of-the-art electricity system. Progress Energy celebrated a century of service in 2008. Visit the company’s website at www.progress-energy.com.

# # #

Latest News Releases

View the most recent news releases on duke-energy.com.