As your district manager for Duke Energy, serving Anson, Cumberland, Hoke, Montgomery, Moore, Richmond, Robeson and Scotland counties, I want to share a few key points about Duke Energy’s preparedness and plans for power restoration as Hurricane Florence arrives at our coastline today.
High winds, flooding delay power restoration
As tropical force wind conditions begin in parts of the Carolinas today, we want to highlight our company’s focus on employee safety. We will cease traveling in all vehicles or working, including climbing, when sustained winds reach tropical storm force wind velocity. We want to avoid unsafe working conditions that could lead to emergency management having to help us and risk their own employee’s safety.
Restoration efforts cannot begin until the storm passes. Repair work will be lengthy and difficult. Restoring power after a massive storm like Florence can be extremely challenging for utility repair crews, as travel and work conditions will be impacted by high winds and widespread flooding.
We have 20,000 people in place and ready to restore power once it’s safe to do so. This is our largest mobilization of resources to date in the Carolinas in response to a severe-weather event.
We expect somewhere between 1 million and 3 million outages (equates to impacting approximately 2.5 million to 7.5 million people) across our Carolinas service area.
Storm preparation at Weatherspoon near Lumberton
We’ve already been taking steps to prepare our ash basin and cooling pond sites for Hurricane Florence.
Each site has a storm prep checklist that helps ensure we consider the appropriate actions.
We’re pre-staging field staff and equipment to sites closest to the coast, including Cape Fear, HF Lee, Sutton and Weatherspoon in North Carolina and Robinson in South Carolina.
These sites already have lower levels of water in the ash basins due to our basin closure work and can hold significant rainfall. We’re also working to lower leachate levels at our landfills to prepare them for the storm.
The bigger challenges for us are the nearby rivers and creeks that can rise and overtop into our cooling ponds, which are not used to store coal ash but provide cooling water for current or historic plant operations.
We have a set a protocols we follow for inspections following heavy rain events, and site staff will perform those field inspections as needed as long as conditions are safe to do so. We also have drones available to us in the event we can’t access certain locations by foot or boat. (Dam inspections are triggered after four inches of rain in 24 hours.)
Emergency action plans for each site also can be activated when conditions warrant and provide procedures for notifying local emergency management partners.
Nursing homes and special-care facilities
Duke Energy is committed to providing safe, reliable service; however, during severe-weather events, we cannot guarantee customers a constant supply of electricity or priority treatment.
All customers should prepare for an extended power outage. Nursing homes and special-care facilities need to take the necessary actions to ensure the safety of their patients in the event they are without power.
We work very closely with state and local emergency managers to identify and restore these facilities as quickly as possible. However, these facilities need to be prepared and consider alternate arrangements if they experience an extended outage.
What do I do if I see a downed power line?
Stay safe and stay away from downed power lines. Customers and first responders should assume all of these lines are live. With a storm of this magnitude, we expect thousands of downed power lines. We will respond as quickly as possible, but we are urging caution because of the sheer volume of calls we expect to receive.
Call Duke Energy to report downed power lines:
· Duke Energy Progress – 800-419-6356
· In anticipation of Hurricane Florence, Duke Energy continues to lower lake levels by moving water along all river basins by operating our available hydro units.
· The designs of the company’s dams and current water levels determine the best way to move water at any given time.
· If we receive significant rainfall, lake levels will rise much more quickly due to runoff.
Stay connected with Duke Energy
For storm or power restoration updates, follow Duke Energy on Twitter (@DukeEnergy) and Facebook (Duke Energy) or visit us at our storm website: www.dukeenergyupdates.com.
· Visit www.dukeenergyupdates.com.
· Text OUT to 57801 (standard text and data charges may apply). If you haven’t registered yet, text REG to 57801.
· Call the automated outage-reporting system at 800-419-6356 for Duke Energy Progress customers.
· ReadyNC app
We appreciate the important work being performed by local community leaders, emergency preparedness officials, all of the first responders, and all of our partners in the community as we respond to Hurricane Florence. Please let me know how we can help and support your efforts in the days ahead.