Snow, freezing rain could cause power outages in coastal areas of North Carolina, South Carolina this weekend.
2,500 response workers staged; ready to restore power as soon as weather conditions allow.
Company provides safety, preparedness tips to customers.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Duke Energy and its power outage response crews are ready for this weekend’s winter storm in the Carolinas – the third storm to hit the region this month.
Snow and freezing rain could cause power outages in coastal areas of North Carolina and South Carolina, according to the company’s meteorologists.
In advance of the storm, Duke Energy has strategically staged 2,500 response workers – power line technicians, damage assessors and vegetation workers – to begin restoring power as soon as weather conditions safely allow.
Those workers include Duke Energy crews normally based in Florida, Indiana and Ohio who will assist Carolinas-based Duke Energy workers.
“Our crews are prepared to assess damage and restore electricity to impacted customers as soon as it’s safe to do so,” said Jason Hollifield, Duke Energy Carolinas storm director. “We recommend that customers in the forecasted path of the storm prepare for possible power outages.”
Heavy ice on trees, branches, power lines
Ice buildup on trees and branches that causes them to fall on power lines is usually the main culprit behind power outages during a winter storm. Specifically, ice buildup of a quarter-inch or more is often the threshold amount that causes trees and branches to topple.
The heavy weight of significant ice buildup directly on power lines themselves can sometimes cause the lines to fall or sag, as well. Heavy, wet snow of six inches or more also can cause trees and branches to fall on power lines.
After the storm, as conditions permit, crews will assess damage – a process that can take 24 hours or more, depending on damage severity and road conditions.
Damage assessment determines the types of crews, equipment and supplies needed to restore electricity to each power outage location.
Simultaneously, while damage assessment is underway in some of the harder hit areas, repair work will begin in other areas where feasible.
Keeping customers informed
Customers can report power outages by texting “OUT” to 57801 – and find the latest information on the company’s outage maps.
Duke Energy will provide estimated power restoration times to customers as soon as those times are determined.
The company also will provide regular updates to customers and communities through emails, text messages, outbound phone calls, social media and its website, which includes power outage maps.
Duke Energy serves 4.3 million customers in the Carolinas – 3.5 million in North Carolina; 800,000 in South Carolina.
Duke Energy’s power restoration process
More information about how crews restore power after a major storm – restoration process.
Important safety information for customers
- Ensure an adequate supply of flashlights, batteries, bottled water, non-perishable foods, medicines, etc., as well as the availability of a portable, battery-operated radio, TV or weather radio.
- Customers should make alternate shelter arrangements as needed if you will be significantly impacted by a loss of power – especially families who have special medical needs or elderly members.
- If a power line falls across a car that you’re in, stay in the car. If you MUST get out of the car due to a fire or other immediate life-threatening situation, do your best to jump clear of the car and land on both feet. Be sure that no part of your body is touching the car when your feet touch the ground.
- Ice and snow can cause hazardous driving conditions resulting in traffic accidents and downed utility poles and power lines that, in turn, can cause isolated power outages. If you’re driving and encounter emergency responders or other roadside work crews, remember to MOVE OVER.
- If you use a generator due to a power outage, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure safe and proper operation. Operate your generator outside; never operate it inside a building or garage.
- Don’t use grills or other outdoor appliances or equipment indoors for space heating or cooking, as these devices may emit carbon monoxide.
- Stay away from power lines that have fallen or are sagging. Consider all lines energized as well as trees or limbs in contact with lines. Please report downed power lines to Duke Energy or local emergency services.
- Be prepared for an emergency by purchasing an emergency preparedness kit from the Red Cross.
More tips on what to do before, during and after a storm can be found at duke-energy.com/safety-and-preparedness/storm-safety. A checklist serves as a helpful guide, but it's critical before, during and after a storm to follow the instructions and warnings of emergency management officials in your area.
In addition, the Red Cross maintains an update-to-date list of open shelter locations – https://www.redcross.org/get-help/disaster-relief-and-recovery-services/find-an-open-shelter.html.
Follow CDC recommendations for staying safe and healthy in a public disaster shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic.
How to protect refrigerated food during power outages
For customers who lose power and have full refrigerators and freezers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends the following:
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.
- A refrigerator can keep food cold for about four hours if it is unopened. If the power will be out for more than four hours, use coolers to keep refrigerated food cold.
- A full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.
The FDA offers additional tips for proper food handling and storage before, during and after a power outage at www.fda.gov/food/buy-store-serve-safe-food/food-and-water-safety-during-power-outages-and-floods.
Avoid customer scams
Customers should be alert to scammers who might call them – impersonating Duke Energy representatives and threatening to cut off customers’ power before or during the storm unless customers make an immediate payment for late bills or other charges.
Duke Energy never makes such calls.
Below are tips for customers to avoid such scams:
- If it’s a recorded voice, often referred to as a “robocall,” be extra cautious.
- Do not provide any personal information.
- Duke Energy’s actual recorded calls to customers are informative only. The company’s calls never threaten to cut off power and never request personal information.
- If a caller – recorded or live – specifically asks you to pay using a prepaid debit card, that’s a red flag. Prepaid debit cards are like cash and the transactions cannot be reversed.
- If the caller pressures you to make an immediate payment of any type – or provide personal information of any kind, such as a bank account number or social security number – hang up the phone.
Sign up for outage alerts
Customers can receive the most up-to-date information about power restoration efforts by enrolling in Outage Alerts.
How to report power outages
Customers who experience a power outage can report the outage using Duke Energy's automated outage-reporting systems for their respective utility:
- Customers can report an outage by texting “OUT” to 57801, and also report an outage or view current outages on the Duke Energy mobile app or at www.duke-energy.com/outages.
- Duke Energy Progress: 1.800.419.6356
- Duke Energy Carolinas: 1.800.POWERON (1.800.769.3766)
Duke Energy also will provide updates on its social media channels to keep customers informed if significant outages occur:
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% carbon reduction by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The company is a top U.S. renewable energy provider, on track to own 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 is available at duke-energy.com. The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos and videos. Duke Energy’s illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.
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