Duke Energy Projects Hurricane Michael Could Cause 300,000 to 500,000 Power Outages in Carolinas

Staff Report From South Carolina CEO

Thursday, October 11th, 2018

Duke Energy projects Hurricane Michael could cause 300,000 to 500,000 power outages in North Carolina and South Carolina this week, based on the storm’s current forecasted track.

The power outage projections are based on the company’s storm modeling tool, which analyzes variables including storm magnitude and track, wind speed, size of the wind field and ground saturation.

Historical data and company experience indicate complete power restoration from a storm of this magnitude could take several days – depending on the extent of damage, crews’ ability to access remote areas, and conditions such as flooding after the storm.

“We know this is an extremely difficult time, especially for many of our customers who have already endured the impacts of Hurricane Florence – a storm some would consider a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ event,” said Howard Fowler, Duke Energy’s incident commander for the Carolinas.

“The remnants of Hurricane Michael will once again challenge the resolve of our communities, our customers and our employees – but working together, we’ll all get through this,” Fowler said.

More than 6,000 workers in Carolinas

Nearly 6,000 workers – including power line technicians, damage assessors and tree specialists – are ready to respond to the storm’s impact in the Carolinas.

Restoring power after a storm can be extremely challenging for repair crews, as travel and work conditions can be hampered by high winds and flooding.

Work cannot begin until the storm has passed and repair crews can safely access damaged areas. For worker safety, line technicians do not perform elevated work in bucket trucks when winds are higher than 35 miles per hour.

Damage assessment can take 24 hours

Before power can be restored, workers first must conduct a damage assessment – which can take 24 hours or more – to determine which crews, equipment and supplies are needed before repairs can begin.

That assessment will determine where the company will deploy its workers, equipment and other resources to begin the complex job of power restoration once the storm passes.

Duke Energy first will restore power to critical infrastructure – such as emergency centers, fire stations, hospitals, water treatment plants and other public safety and health facilities.

At the same time, the company will repair major power transmission lines, damaged substations and other large-scale electrical equipment to restore electricity to the largest number of customers, as quickly as possible.

Important reminders

The following tips can help you and your family stay safe if the power goes out:

Stay away from power lines that have fallen or are sagging. Consider all lines energized as well as trees, limbs or anything in contact with lines.

Create (or update) an emergency supply kit to save valuable time later. The kit should include everything an individual or family would need for at least two weeks, especially medicines and other supplies that might be hard to find after a storm strikes.

Maintain a supply of water and non-perishable food.

Keep a portable radio or TV, or NOAA weather radio on hand to monitor weather forecasts and important information from state and local officials.

Charge cellphones, computers and other electronic devices in advance of the storm to stay connected to important safety and response information. Consider purchasing portable chargers and make sure they are fully charged as well.

Maintain a plan to move family members – especially those with special needs – to a safe, alternative location in case an extended power outage occurs or evacuation is required.

Pet owners can make arrangements to stay at evacuation shelters that accept pets, friends' or family members' homes, or pet-friendly hotels.

Review insurance policies, and include extra copies of the policies and other important documents in your emergency supply kit (ideally in a waterproof container).

Report all power line hazards using the following phone numbers:

Duke Energy Carolinas customers – 800.769.3766

Duke Energy Progress customers – 800.419.6356

If a power line falls across a car that you're in, stay in the car. If you MUST get out of the car due to a fire or other immediate life-threatening situation, do your best to jump clear of the car and land on both feet. Be sure that no part of your body is touching the car when your feet touch the ground.