Questions linger about Duke Energy's use of rolling blackouts

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Wednesday, December 28, 2022
Questions linger about Duke Energy's use of rolling blackouts
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Duke Energy said it used rolling blackouts during the holiday weekend because it exhausted all other options.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- While the temperatures continue warming up after the Christmas deep freeze, questions remain about Duke Energy's decision to use rolling blackouts during the holiday weekend to conserve energy.

Gov. Roy Cooper said he's looking for an explanation from Duke Energy.

Duke Energy told ABC11 on Tuesday afternoon that what happened this weekend was extremely rare.

The rolling blackouts were something they had to do because it didn't have any other tools in the toolbox, the utility provider said.

Still, there's been a lot of frustration about what happened. People were left in the dark for hours and now the governor has called for a full investigation into the events.

At one point, nearly 20,000 people were without power in Wake County and about 50,000 in the Triangle as a whole.

What's a rolling blackout?

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

The energy company said it was a combination of a few things: Temperatures that were slightly lower than forecast, customer demand for electricity was higher, and there was limited availability from out-of-state utilities to help Duke Energy meet its needs.

Basically, many other utilities were dealing with winter weather events across the country vs. just one or two regions.

One energy expert said this is a chance for utilities to ensure they have more robust access to natural gas and to firm up partnerships with neighbors who might be able to supply electricity during a crisis.

"We should not be in a scenario where we have planned our system such that we have this type of a vulnerability," said Michael Borgatto of Gabel Associates. "It's been exposed now, it is what it is. Going forward you asked me what should the (Public Utilities Commission) do about it, we should absolutely take this as a learning point and make sure we never find ourselves in this position in the first place."

Duke Energy said it learns from every event and on the positive side, it was able to restore many of the customers who lost power on the same day.

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