'Rolling blackouts' end across the Carolinas, power restoration continues: Duke Energy

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Sunday, December 25, 2022
Some duke customers remain without power in the Triangle
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Duke Energy asking customers to conserve energy for the next 24-48 hours as crews continue to restore electricity.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- With temperatures below freezing all day on Christmas Eve, there are still a few thousand Duke Energy customers without electricity across the Triangle area.

If you had power Friday night and didn't have it Saturday, Duke Energy confirms it was conducting some temporary power outages, also known as rolling blackouts. According to Duke Energy, these emergency outages are necessary to protect the energy grid against longer, more widespread outages.

The company provided this statement about the rolling blackouts: "These outages are temporary and rotated among customers and will continue until additional electricity is available and normal operation of the power grid resumes. We understand how difficult an outage can be during extreme temperatures, especially during a holiday. Duke Energy deeply appreciates our customers' patience and understanding as we work through this extreme weather event and we're doing everything possible to keep the power on for as many people as possible until conditions improve."

As of Saturday evening, Duke Energy said they have stopped the rolling outages. The company tweeted this statement on the update: "Emergency rotating outages have concluded in the Carolinas. Restoration for interrupted service should be completed today. Please continue to conserve energy without sacrificing safety. We appreciate your understanding and patience."

Statewide, less than 10,000 customers are without power.

Saturday morning, Gov. Roy Cooper issued this statement about the outages:

"This morning I spoke with Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good to offer assistance and to express urgency about the need to restore power quickly in this extreme cold while keeping customers accurately informed. I'm grateful for the workers braving the wind and cold to get the power back on."

On Friday, the number of outages in the Triangle topped 200,000 by early afternoon. The number dropped to about 85,000 by late evening.

Carol Bushee says the power at Paul's Grocery and Grill went out at 10 a.m. on Friday.

"We're not able to ring things up on the register, let people roam through the store and pick up what they need," Bushee said. "Instead, we're having to carry flashlights with them, ring them up on the calculator."

The temporary power outage was a big loss to the small business on Saturday, which would typically "be slammed" with customers making last-minute holiday purchases.

"Really inconvenient because we're not able to get the people in and let them shop with their debit cards, which most people carry now," Bushee continued. "We also had to close our grill, and the grill is super, super, super busy. We've not had LP (liquid propane), we've not been able to sell kerosene, not been able to sell gas so all of that is going to affect us big time."

For some Wake County residents, the outage was a "big inconvenience" on a frigid day.

"Here it is Christmas Eve, you got a lot of people want stuff, cook and be with their families and it's hard to do," Mike Dennis said. "I feel sorry for the old folks that don't have power because a lot of them don't know what to do. They don't have help, stuff like that. I got a next-door neighbor without power and I have to check on her."

Duke Energy spokesperson Jeff Brooks said they had to act quickly on Saturday as extremely cold temperatures drove unusually high energy demand.

"The idea with these planned temporary outages is when we reach a point where we no longer have enough electricity to meet all the needs customers have, and in this case, we didn't have any from the other regions either because all the utilities in the Southeast are dealing with this, then we took these temporary outages which allowed us to protect the system and protect our customers from what could've been a longer outage or a more disruptive outage," Brooks said.

"This is not how any one of us wanted our holiday season to go. We had time off planned, all the things that everybody else did. We put that aside when a storm comes, whatever that storm is. Our job is to get out there to be on the front line and get things restored and get people back up."

As power restoration continues, Duke Energy asks for continued energy conservation and patience as they're also working to restore power to about 40,000 customers who experienced outages from a high-wind event on Friday.

What's a rolling blackout?

Jeff Brooks with Duke Energy explains the reason for rotating outages, also known as rolling blackouts.

White flag shelters, which are heated indoor areas accepting anyone in these extremely cold temperatures in various locations throughout Raleigh. They are asking for volunteers in order to keep the shelters open for longer periods of time.

Volunteers needed to keep shelters open, extend hours during brutal cold spell in Wake County

"No one can risk staying outside during these conditions, it's just not safe without a reliable heat source,"

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