Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg

Duke Restores Power to 1.2 Million, Now the Real Test Begins

Sept. 18, 2018
The company restored power to almost 80% of customers who went dark in the storm

(Bloomberg) -- Duke Energy Corp., the biggest utility in the Carolinas, has faced a three-front war as it battles back against the wet and dangerously wild effects of Hurricane Florence.

The company restored power to almost 80% of customers who went dark in the storm, but said late Monday it will take a week to get everyone back on. The Brunswick nuclear plant is now freshly staffed and supplied after being cut off by flooding over the weekend.

The target for getting almost all electricity restored is Sept. 26, the company’s statement said, though that won’t include those with damage that might prevent the return of service. About 216,280 customers were without power early Tuesday as the storm tracked northeast, heading across New York State and into New England.

“The first ones are the easiest ones,” Kit Konolige, a New York-based analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence, said Monday about the power recovery. “You want to see over the next few days, does it continue to go down pretty quickly.”

The storm has already taken the lives of at least 31 people, according to the Associated Press, and flooding in the region is expected to last for at least two weeks following record rains.

The Cape Fear River that stretches west from the North Carolina coast deep into the middle of the state was still rising, was set to crest Wednesday 9.2 feet (2.8 meters) above major flood stages in Burgaw, North Carolina. The Neuse River in Kinston wasn’t set to crest until Saturday.

Many still in the dark are in coastal areas that experienced road closures and structural damage, according to the Duke statement. The outages weren’t as widespread as Duke initially warned. As the storm loomed, the utility said as many as 3 million homes and businesses could lose power.

“This is like when you go to a restaurant and they say it could be an hour and then they seat you in 20 minutes,” Konolige said. “They want to keep expectations reasonably low. If there’s still a lot of outages after a week, then it starts to look like a problem.”

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