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Press Release

04/17/2011

Service restored to 80% of customers who lost power in storms; Crews continue to focus on 46,000 still without power across N.C.

RALEIGH, N.C. (April 17, 2011 – 4:30 p.m.) – Progress Energy Carolinas crews have restored service to more than 80 percent of the customers who lost power in Saturday’s powerful tornadoes and storms. As of 4:30 p.m., more than 1,000 utility workers are continuing to focus on the remaining 46,000 customers still without power in central and eastern North Carolina.

Progress Energy expects to restore service to the vast majority of customers whose homes are capable of receiving power by midnight Monday. In some particularly hard-hit areas, including portions of eastern Wake County, Johnston, Lee, Cumberland and Sampson counties, restoration is expected to extend into Tuesday.

As of 4 p.m., outage totals are as follows:

Wake County

23,500

Sampson County

8,600

Johnston County

5,500

Cumberland County

4,800

Lee County

1,600

Robeson County

900

Harnett County

900

Nash County

700

Outages are scattered in other counties.

Crews have been working since a series of tornadoes crashed through the Carolinas Saturday, leaving significant damage to power lines and utility infrastructure. At the peak, more than 220,000 Progress Energy customers were without power. Overall, more than 300,000 lost power at one time or another since Saturday afternoon. Due to the rolling nature of the storms, workers were restoring service in some areas even as storms were causing new outages in other locations.

In many areas, workers are having rebuild miles of poles and wires damaged or destroyed by the violent storms. Workers in some locations reported that tornadoes literally swept poles and wires away.

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.

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 has used helicopters, vehicles and employees on foot to assess damage to transmission lines, substations, distribution lines and other infrastructure.

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.

 

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