RICHMOND, Va., July 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Dominion Virginia Power expects to restore service by Tuesday night for 80-85 percent of customers whose power was disrupted by two days of severe storms at the end of last week. The company expects to restore service to 90-95 percent of affected customers by Thursday night, and virtually all remaining customers by Saturday night. However, it is expected that in areas of the most-severe damage, service may not be restored fully until next Sunday.
The storms last Friday and Saturday resulted in the most significant damage suffered by the company outside of hurricanes. Outages reported are now approaching 1 million of Dominion's 2.4 million electric distribution customers.
The pace of restoration work will vary by region and the extent of storm damage. In parts of Northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley, where the damage was catastrophic in many cases, the repairs will not be completed until the end of the restoration period. Many poles and cross arms need to be replaced, and other infrastructure needs to be rebuilt.
Help being brought in from 13 states, Canada
Power has been restored to more than half of the customers whose service was disrupted by the storms. About 900,000 customers lost service because of Friday night's storms. An additional 55,000 customers were affected by Saturday night's storms. As of 3 p.m. Sunday, service was restored to about 600,000 customers and 388,000 still were without power.
Dominion has more than 3,000 employees, contractors and retirees working to restore service. Another 1,200 utility workers from 13 states – including Kansas, Texas, Wisconsin and Florida – and Quebec have arrived or are on their way to assist. The company is seeking additional help, and work will continue around the clock until power is restored to all customers. Most of the outside assistance is being dedicated to the hardest-hit areas. A video update addressing key restoration questions is available at http://youtu.be/RFWLPWHCHPs.
Estimated restoration times for individual customers (ETRs) are not yet available. They will be provided once the damage assessment is complete and the focus of the work shifts to neighborhood-level restoration. An announcement will be made when individual ETRs are available.
Additional significant storm activity could push back completion of the restoration work.
"Unlike a hurricane, this storm could not be forecasted well ahead of time by the National Weather Service," said Rodney Blevins, vice president-Electric Distribution Operations. "That is complicating restoration efforts because crews and supplies could not be positioned in advance."
Blevins also noted that the large scale of the storm damage – extending over many states and affecting more than 3 million customers in all – means there is a large demand for outside help. Further complicating the situation are communications infrastructure problems, especially in Northern Virginia.
Initial restoration work focuses on large electric transmission lines and critical facilities such as emergency call centers, hospitals and cooling centers. For that reason, customers may not see crews working in their neighborhoods in the initial days. The focus then turns to power lines serving large numbers of customers and then to neighborhood circuits. Dominion will work around the clock until all customers have their power restored.
"While we are dedicated to restoring power as quickly as possible, safety remains the No. 1 priority," Blevins said. "We want our customers to be safe, and we want our crews to be safe. Our crews will be working under extremely trying conditions due to the extreme heat while wearing heavy protective clothing. We ask that everyone be considerate of them and not interfere in the restoration process."
A state of emergency has been declared in Virginia and cooling centers have been opened by local governments in affected areas. A list of Northern Virginia cooling locations is available at: https://www.dom.com/storm-center/index.jsp. For other locations, call 211.
Tips on staying safe in extreme heat are available from the Virginia Department of Health at: http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/OEP/ExtremeHeat/index.htm
Additional information and video updates are available at www.dom.com:
Please stay away from downed lines and anything touching them – assume they are energized, and report them by calling 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357) – and please stay away from areas where linemen are at work.
Storm-related damage is affecting telephone service and other forms of communications, especially in Northern Virginia. Customers who encounter delays or problems when calling 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357) are asked to keep trying. Reporting an outage promptly – even if neighbors have done so – speeds the restoration process.
When calling Dominion, please have your account or phone number that is listed on your account so you can move through the automated system to report your outage or receive an update. The calls will be answered by an automated voice response system, which is the quickest way to report an outage or downed power line, or by call-center representatives.
Follow safe operating procedures for electric generators. Never operate one inside your home or in an enclosed space, such as a garage. Do not connect portable generators directly to the electrical system of your home. Electricity could flow backward onto Dominion's power lines and endanger lives. Either have a qualified electrician perform the work or plug appliances directly into the generator using the proper-sized extension cords. Exhaust fumes contain carbon monoxide and can be deadly, so run your generator outside with proper ventilation. Store the fuel for your generator safely.
Dominion is one of the nation's largest producers and transporters of energy, with a portfolio of approximately 27,500 megawatts of generation. Dominion operates the nation's largest natural gas storage system and serves retail energy customers in 15 states. For more information about Dominion, visit the company's Web site at www.dom.com.
Follow us on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/DomVAPower. 'Like' us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dominionvirginiapower.
SOURCE Dominion Virginia Power
For further information: Media: Karl Neddenien, +1-804-771-6115, Karl.R.Neddenien@dom.com, Le-Ha Anderson, +1-703-796-9308, Le-Ha.Anderson@dom.com, or Bonita B. Harris, +1-757-857-2700, Bonita.B.Harris@dom.com