Thousands lose power in North Carolina due to Hurricane Florence

There were 505,166 statewide power outages in North Carolina as of 10:52 a.m., on Sept. 14, due to Hurricane Florence according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety’s website, which also noted that the hurricane made landfall in Wrightsville Beach.

More than 12,000 people fleeing the storm have taken shelter at 126 shelters open across North Carolina, according to a Sept. 13 statement posted on North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s website. State emergency management officials are working to set up even more shelters where people can stay safe through, and after, the storm, the statement added.

Cooper has activated more than 2,800 National Guard soldiers to preserve life and safety, provide route clearance of roads, and support communications and logistics, the statement noted. North Carolina Emergency Management and FEMA have staged supplies and equipment to respond to the storm, and first responders across the state are ready, the statement said. Additional emergency personnel from 19 other states – including swift water rescue teams and emergency medical personnel – have arrived in North Carolina to assist with the storm, the statement noted. The North Carolina Department of Transportation has deployed more than 2,300 workers across the state, the statement said.

Cooper has also requested an additional federal disaster declaration to speed recovery and resources, the statement noted.

A Sept. 12 statement posted on South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster’s website noted that the South Carolina Emergency Response Team continues to track the hurricane and remains dedicated to preparing for the storm’s potential impact on the state. Among other things, the statement noted that there were 450 State Law Enforcement Division officers on duty on Sept. 12, and that there were 35 emergency shelters open throughout South Carolina with more than 1,800 occupants.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Hurricane Center, in an 11 a.m., EDT, Sept. 14 bulletin, said that at 11 a.m., EDT, the center of Hurricane Florence was located near latitude 34.0 North, longitude 78.0 West. Hurricane Florence is moving toward the west-southwest near 3 mph, the bulletin said, adding that a slow westward to west-southwestward motion is expected Sept. 14 through Sept. 15. On the forecast track, the center of the hurricane will move further inland across extreme southeastern North Carolina and extreme eastern South Carolina Sept. 14 and 15, the bulletin said.

The hurricane will then move generally northward across the western Carolinas and the central Appalachian Mountains early the week of Sept. 17, the bulletin noted.

Maximum sustained winds are near 80 mph with higher gusts, the bulletin said, adding that gradual weakening is forecast later on Sept. 14. Significant weakening is expected over the weekend of Sept. 15 and 16, and into early the week of Sept. 17 while Florence moves farther inland, the bulletin said.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles, the bulletin noted. 

NERC on Sept. 12 said that it continues to monitor the bulk power system as Hurricane Florence approaches the eastern United States. Coordination between NERC, the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council (ESCC), and the Departments of Energy and Homeland Security is ongoing to ensure unity of effort, NERC said.

“Industry has begun its mutual assistance preparation and staging activities and is ready for restoration efforts when and where needed when it is safe to do so,” NERC said. “Everyone is urged to heed the safety instructions for their area and our thoughts are with those in Hurricane Florence’s path.”

The Edison Electric Institute, in a separate Sept. 12 statement, noted that investor-owned electric companies, electric cooperatives, and public power utilities in the path of the storm already have mobilized more than 40,000 workers to respond to Hurricane Florence – that includes mutual assistance workers from at least 17 states. 

Among other things, EEI noted that during floods, electric companies work closely with local government and emergency officials to stay informed of the latest conditions and flood risks to ensure the safety of employees and customers. Electric customers in potentially impacted areas are urged to prepare for the possibility of extended power outages, EEI said.

Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) on Sept. 13 said that it has staged across North Carolina and South Carolina more than 20,000 professionals, who are ready to restore power once it is safe to do so in the wake of the hurricane.

Duke Energy said that its crews in the Carolinas have been joined by crews from Duke Energy’s Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and Florida utilities. In addition, crews from other energy companies located in 18 other states, including Texas and Minnesota – as well as in Canada – have traveled to the Carolinas in advance of the storm to assist Duke Energy crews after the storm passes, the company said.

Duke Energy noted that this is its largest mobilization of resources ever in response to a severe weather event in the Carolinas. 

The company said that based on the hurricane’s latest track and the overall forecast, Duke Energy’s modeling continues to project between 1 million and 3 million power outages across the Carolinas. Power restoration could take weeks as Hurricane Florence is forecast to be a historic weather event in terms of size and duration, the company said.

PPL (NYSE:PPL) on Sept. 12 noted that while a direct hit by Hurricane Florence is not forecast for Pennsylvania, rain may cause flooding and already saturated ground could contribute to tree-related outages. All employees – including hundreds of line workers, electricians and other skilled technicians – are ready to respond if needed, the company said, adding that PPL also has more than 200 additional workers – including contract line crews and workers to clear downed trees – ready to help restore power to customers, if needed.

Exelon’s (NYSE:EXC) Pepco on Sept. 11 said that its full emergency response organization is ready, adding that employees and local contractors have inspected equipment, reviewed procedures, and assembled staffing plans to ensure around-the-clock support to respond to any potential impacts from the storm. Among other things Pepco said that in addition to more than 200 internal line workers, the company has an additional 404 contractors and 153 tree-trimming personnel as well as crews from its sister utilities Atlantic City Electric and Delmarva Power available to assist in any needed restoration effort.

Similarly, Exelon’s Delmarva Power, in a separate Sept. 11 statement, said that in addition to more than 250 internal line workers and overhead line contractors, Delmarva Power has 133 tree-trimming personnel, as well as crews from Pepco and Atlantic City Electric, available to assist in any needed restoration effort. Like Pepco, Delmarva Power said that it is also partnering with city or county or state government to ensure safety and service to the greatest extent possible.

American Electric Power’s (NYSE:AEP) Appalachian Power on Sept. 11 said that its crews are preparing for potential power outages as Hurricane Florence is expected to impact parts of the company’s Virginia service area beginning on Sept. 14 and lasting throughout the weekend of Sept. 15 and 16. Preparations are underway to move employees and contractors into areas likely to experience damage and outages from the hurricane, Appalachian Power said, adding that AEP crews from Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Kentucky are ready to assist, if needed.

FirstEnergy (NYSE:FE) on Sept. 11 said that its utility personnel are prepared to respond quickly should the hurricane impact the areas where the company provides electric service. The company said that the storm could have secondary impacts, such as heavy rain and high winds, in areas served by all 10 FirstEnergy utilities, including Pennsylvania Electric Company in Pennsylvania; Potomac Edison in Maryland and West Virginia; Jersey Central Power & Light in New Jersey; and Ohio Edison in Ohio.

The companies are reviewing storm response plans, which include staffing additional dispatchers, damage assessors and analysts at regional dispatch offices, and are making arrangements to bring in additional line, substation and forestry personnel, as needed, based on the severity of the weather, FirstEnergy said.

SCANA’s (NYSE:SCG) SCE&G on Sept. 11 said that it is prepared to deploy additional storm responders from around the southeast if the hurricane brings the expected heavy winds and rains that will down power lines.

“Nearly 2,900 personnel, including linemen and damage assessors, are ready to respond quickly to power outages should they occur,” Bill Turner, SCE&G vice president of Operations, said in the statement. “Having the additional resources on standby and ready to go is essential to restoring power to our customers. We’re going to work as safely and as quickly as possible.”

Dominion Energy (NYSE:D) on Sept. 10 said that it is preparing for significant impacts, including high winds and flooding, across its service area in North Carolina and Virginia. Customers in both states are urged to prepare for a multi-day storm that could bring dangerous conditions and widespread outages, Dominion said.

Information about resources in North Carolina and South Carolina can be found here, https://www.ncdps.gov/florence, and here, https://www.scemd.org/.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3058 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.