RALEIGH, N.C. (Aug. 28, 2011 – 9 a.m.) – Progress Energy has restored service to thousands of customers who lost power in the wake of Hurricane Irene, and more than 1,200 utility workers and tree crews – now four times the normal complement – are taking aim on approximately 176,000 customers still without power as of 9 a.m. Company employees are patrolling by land, water and air to assess damage and restore 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.
The highest number of outages at any one time was estimated at approximately 280,000 around 2 p.m. Saturday. The actual number of customers who experienced outages at one time or another during the storm was significantly higher. In fact, since noon on Friday, Aug. 26, as the first bands of Hurricane Irene reached the Carolinas, more than 440,000 customers have lost power for varying periods. 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.
Progress Energy estimates it will take several days to complete repairs, especially in the hardest-hit areas, where storm damage was most severe. The company’s efforts to complete full-scale damage assessment were impeded by the lingering storm and high winds through the day and evening Saturday. The storm’s effects were still being felt in much of eastern North Carolina and the coastal plain well into the night Saturday. With improved weather conditions this morning, workers were out before dawn.
In addition to normal vehicles, the company is using tracked equipment, boats and helicopters to complete damage assessment and access equipment in flooded or remote areas. The storm left significant flooding in many areas, further complicating restoration.
As of 9 a.m. today, approximately 176,000 customers are without power. Counties with the largest numbers of remaining outages include Carteret (24,000); Wayne (20,700); Craven (18,000); New Hanover (15,000); Nash (13,400); Onslow (13,300); Lenoir (9,100); Franklin (8,600); Johnston (7,100); Wake (5,900); Duplin (5,700). There are fewer than 5,000 outages remaining in numerous counties in eastern and central North Carolina.
Progress Energy has brought in additional Progress Energy crews from the Carolinas and Florida and off-system crews and contractors from five states (North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia and Arkansas).
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
• Never go near downed power lines. Always assume they are energized and extremely dangerous. If someone suffers an electric shock, call 911 or your local rescue squad immediately. Even minor shocks may cause serious health problems later.
• Check for electrical damage inside your home, such as frayed wires, sparks or the smell of burning insulation. If you find damage, don’t turn your power on until an electrician inspects your system and makes necessary repairs.
• Walk and drive cautiously. Watch out for debris-filled streets and weakened bridges. Snakes and insects can be a problem after storms.
• Use your emergency water supply or boil water before drinking it until local officials deem the water supply safe. Report broken sewer or water mains.
• Make temporary repairs to protect property from further damage or looting. Beware of unscrupulous contractors.
• Do not connect a generator directly to your home’s electrical system. It is dangerous to you, your neighbors and utility workers. Follow manufacturer’s directions regarding connecting appliances directly to your generator.
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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