Carolina blackout: Duke Energy cuts power to thousands


As extreme winter weather chills much of the U.S. over the holiday weekend, Duke Energy announced Saturday that it will impose rolling blackouts in the Carolinas ahead of Christmas due to increased stress on the grid.

Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress said they, like other utilities across the country dealing with the Arctic blast, are asking customers to conserve usage and expect “load shedding steps, including service interruptions.”

Nearly 340,000 Duke Energy customers were without power at noon ET, including more than 140,000 customers in the Charlotte area, according to the utility’s outage map. The number of customers without power in the Carolinas reached nearly 500,000 at one point Saturday morning.

“Due to extremely cold temperatures and subsequent power demand across much of the country, power supply is very tight,” parent company Duke Energy wrote in a news release Saturday. Many temporary outages lasting 15 to 30 minutes were “necessary to extend available generation and help maintain operations until additional power becomes available,” the company said.

But for some of the hundreds of thousands of Duke Energy customers without power, the move came without warning and at the worst possible time: Carolina homes over Christmas weekend Face chilly temperatures during eve and Hanukkah gatherings. Temperatures dipped to single-digit wind chills across most of North and South Carolina on Saturday.

“I can’t believe @DukeEnergy cut power to my #Charlotte community at 7am without warning on Christmas Eve and is now saying these were planned outages,” tweets Leslie Mac said the company “failed to even automate texting your customers to get us ready. It’s the coldest day of the year.”

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper (D) tweets He has spoken to Duke Energy CEO Lynn Goode “to offer assistance and express the urgency of quickly restoring power in this extreme cold, while keeping customers accurately informed.”

“I thank the workers who braved the wind and cold to restore power,” the governor wrote.

A spokesman for Duke Energy did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday morning.

At least 1.5 million people across the country were without power as a terrifying storm swept through much of the country on Friday. The storm’s wind gusts knocked out power in Texas and along the East Coast, especially in Virginia and North Carolina. In Louisiana, the state’s fire chief noted “multiple widespread power outages in various locations across the state” and urged people to explore alternative power and heating options.

Extreme winter storm knocks out power, endangers travelers across U.S.

North Carolina’s power grid is under scrutiny after shootings at two substations in the middle of the state left thousands of homes without power and highlighted the vulnerability of critical infrastructure. The FBI is investigating.

this National Weather Service On Saturday morning, the agency issued a wind chill warning for the western Carolinas, where it said temperatures could reach minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Duke Energy’s advice to customers includes “Choose the lowest comfortable thermostat setting and lower it a few degrees if possible,” “Avoid large appliances” and “Shift non-essential activities, like laundry, to late night hours when electricity demand is lower.”

“We sincerely appreciate the cooperation and patience of our customers who can help ensure the stability and reliability of the system by taking these steps,” Daniel Stephens, systems operations manager for Duke Energy Carolinas, said in a news release.

Customers were outraged at the lack of warnings about load shedding.

“Make it meaningful,” says one customer tweets.

“I don’t blame @DukeEnergy if they need to do this. Had to make a tough decision,” tweets Writer Corey Insko. “But it seems like they should be warning people and/or letting people know if their outages are intentional or caused by the storm.”

Others noted the time of the blackout, and a critic renamed a prominent Ph.D. Seuss Holiday Stories: “How Duke Energy Stole Christmas.”

And some, well, just can’t figure out why their electricity goes out during extreme winter weather.

“Duke Energy Just Cut Our Electricity,” by Dennis Mersereau wrote. “Octave.”

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