EEI honors nearly 20,000 Duke Energy workers for their efforts in eight hurricanes in 2020.
Grid improvements and new technology will help crews and improve resiliency in the 2021 season.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – As the southeast prepares for another hyperactive hurricane season, the utility industry is honoring the efforts of nearly 20,000 Duke Energy employees and contract workers who helped restore power to millions impacted by hurricanes during last year’s historic storm season.
This week, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) recognized Duke Energy with the Emergency Response Award for its excellence in recovery and assistance following 2020 Hurricanes Isaias, Zeta and Eta. The company also received EEI’s Assistance Award for supporting peer utilities along the Gulf Coast during Hurricanes Sally and Delta, and Tropical Storms Laura and Marco.
Crews saw action in three hurricanes in the Carolinas and Florida and restored power to nearly 1.5 million Duke Energy customers in those states. Around 3,500 line workers and contractors also deployed to the Gulf Coast over a 70-day period to help peer electric utilities with response efforts in communities hit hard by extreme weather.
A comprehensive storm plan adapted to the challenges of a pandemic, coupled with advanced technologies and equipment, grid strengthening and resiliency efforts, and an electric army of workers from six states enabled Duke Energy to effectively respond to storms at home and abroad.
“Thanks to the strength of our combined resources from all the states we serve, we were able to serve our customers and communities despite incredible challenges,” said Duke Energy’s Chief Distribution Officer Scott Batson.
Partnerships among Duke Energy and peer utilities also provided additional resources to shorten response times and get communities back on their feet faster. Duke Energy received help from peer utilities in 2020 and offered help in return to utilities along a storm-ravaged Gulf Coast. This collaboration is increasingly important as utilities face storms that are increasing in frequency and severity.
“Mutual assistance is a hallmark of our industry and is critical to ensuring a safe and efficient restoration,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “Duke Energy and its employees went above and beyond for the customers and communities impacted by these storms, and they are exceptionally deserving of this outstanding award.”
Gearing up for the coming storm
The 2021 Atlantic season runs through Nov. 30. Duke Energy meteorologists forecast 20 storms and nine hurricanes for 2021, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts 13 to 20 named storms and six to 10 hurricanes.
Duke Energy continues to improve its storm response plan and leverage new technologies and process improvements to help crews restore power faster for customers. From the use of damage modeling to better predict outage impacts and deploy resources ahead of the storm, to digital tools and drones to assess damage faster, to smart meters that improve outage detection and help crews repairing damage, to more communication tools and information to keep customers better informed, Duke Energy’s storm response plans continue to evolve.
The company is also making improvements to strengthen the electric grid, making it more resistant to power outages from severe weather and more resilient to recover faster when storms strike. The company is working to upgrade poles and wires, place outage prone lines underground, manage vegetation near power lines, protect essential systems in flood-prone areas, and install smart, self-healing technology that can automatically detect power outages and reroute power to other lines to restore power faster. This multi-year improvement strategy will help to better serve customers and crews the next time a major storm strikes.
As EEI recognizes Duke Energy for its 2020 storm response, Duke Energy’s Batson says he is focused on the storms on the horizon:
”Every storm is an opportunity to learn. Every storm gives us the chance to be better than the storm before. And every storm is a reminder of who we serve and the communities that are counting on us to be ready when they need us most.”
Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of America’s largest energy holding companies. Its electric utilities serve 7.9 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, and collectively own 51,000 megawatts of energy capacity. Its natural gas unit serves 1.6 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The company employs 27,500 people.
Duke Energy is executing an aggressive clean energy strategy to create a smarter energy future for its customers and communities – with goals of at least a 50 percent carbon reduction by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The company is a top U.S. renewable energy provider, on track to operate or purchase 16,000 megawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2025. The company also is investing in major electric grid upgrades and expanded battery storage, and exploring zero-emitting power generation technologies such as hydrogen and advanced nuclear.
Duke Energy was named to Fortune’s 2021 “World’s Most Admired Companies” list and Forbes’ “America’s Best Employers” list. More information about the company is available at duke-energy.com. The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos, videos and other materials. Duke Energy’s illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.
Media contact: Jeff Brooks