Progress Energy expects to achieve 85% restoration today; 99% by Wednesday;
Crews using boats, tracked vehicles to access remote, flooded areas with damage
RALEIGH, N.C. (Aug. 29, 2011 – 9 a.m.) – By midnight tonight, Progress Energy expects to complete restoration to 85 percent of the customers who were out of service at the peak of Hurricane Irene’s wind and rain Saturday afternoon. The company expects to have 96 percent of customers back in service by midnight Tuesday and 99 percent back in service by midnight Wednesday.
The company has restored service to more than 355,000 customers who lost power since Hurricane Irene began lashing the region with strong winds and torrential rains Friday afternoon. The highest number of outages at any one time was at 2 p.m. Saturday, with about 280,000 customers out as the storm churned on land.
By 9 a.m. today, about 94,900 customers remained without power, and an army of 1,200 line and tree workers and 1,000 support personnel – some from as far as Florida and Arkansas – is out in force, rebuilding power lines and other facilities.
Crews Sunday restored service to 17 high-voltage transmission lines, 28 electric substations and 18 points of delivery to wholesale customers, including municipally owned utilities and electric membership cooperatives in eastern North Carolina. Transmission crews expect to complete repairs to the backbone system today.
Damage assessment was impeded by Irene’s strong winds, which continued into Saturday night in coastal areas and the coastal plain. Restoration efforts have been hampered by severe flooding in many areas, and by the number of trees on power lines. In many remote and low-lying areas, crews have used helicopters, boats and tracked vehicles to assess and access damage.
The company’s estimate for complete restoration extends into Thursday for the areas with the most severe damage and flooding. Progress Energy focuses on getting the largest facilities back in service first. That allows for the largest number of customers to be returned to service the fastest.
In remote areas with extensive damage and flooding, crews often must spend several hours repairing many spans of line and poles to get one or two customers back in service.
Hurricane Irene made landfall Saturday morning near Morehead City as a strong category-1 storm. The storm pounded the area with strong winds and heavy rains for several hours before moving north. The storm also jogged to the west before its exit, bringing strong, sustained winds to the coastal plain, including the Goldsboro area, Nash County and the eastern Triangle. Due to the size and path of Hurricane Irene, Progress Energy crews were restoring service in parts of the Carolinas even as Irene was creating new damage.
Counties with the largest numbers of remaining outages as of 9 a.m.:
Numerous other counties in eastern North Carolina have fewer than 2,500 customers remaining out of service.
Following major storms, Progress Energy completes a comprehensive damage assessment, which allows the company to dispatch crews and equipment most efficiently. Doing the thorough assessment also enables the company to provide customers with the most accurate information about damage and restoration times.
We focus initially on restoring service to major facilities, such as power plants and transmission lines, and then work on distribution feeder lines, then smaller power lines and, ultimately, individual service. This helps ensure that we get the largest number of customers back in service the fastest.
Customers who have not yet reported their power out should do so by calling 1-800-419-6356. Our automated outage-reporting system is capable of handling 120,000 calls per hour. Customers who have already registered their account can also report outages by smart phone on our newly launched mobile website at m.progress-energy.com.
Progress Energy asks customers to be safe on roadways and to give a wide berth to utility crews working to restore service. It’s not just a good idea; it’s the law.
Report any downed power lines to Progress Energy at 1-800-419-6356. Don’t go near downed power lines, and keep children and pets away, too. Always assume a power line is energized and dangerous.
New tools to track outages and restoration
Customers and media can find outage information on Progress Energy's website 24 hours a day at www.progress-energy.com/outagemap. The map is being updated at regular intervals throughout the day.
Progress Energy is also using social media channels to keep customers informed throughout the storm restoration process. The company will post regular updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/progressenergy and Facebook at www.facebook.com/ProgressEnergyCarolinas.
Safety after the storm
For more storm and safety information, visit Progress Energy's storm site at www.progress-energy.com/storm.
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.
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Contact: Corporate Communications 24-Hour Media Line 877.641.NEWS (6397)
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