CHARLOTTE, N.C., Oct. 7, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Hurricane Matthew could result in extensive damage and extended power outages so Duke Energy crews are on the move today to affected areas to be in place before the storm hits the Carolina coast.
"We have seen the devastation this storm has caused in the Caribbean and Florida so we have a pretty good idea what we're up against," said Bobby Simpson, Duke Energy's storm director. "With the rain and sustained winds coming with this storm, we know there will be significant power outages, particularly in the coastal and sandhills communities.
Customers in communities where the storm is expected to hit need to finalize plans now to stay safe. If you lose power, response crews will begin work AFTER the storm has exited the area and high waters and winds have subsided.
For employee safety, Duke Energy line technicians cannot perform elevated work in bucket trucks when winds are above 30 miles per hour.
About 4,660 line workers, tree crews, damage assessors and support people are ready to respond.
Also, the company is supplementing its customer services organization with employee volunteers – 400 a day – to assist customers who call to report outages and emergencies.
With the acquisition of Piedmont Natural Gas last week, the company is also training the Piedmont customer representatives to handle power outage calls.
Duke Energy has invested more than $2.7 billion in the Carolinas to harden and upgrade its power delivery system since the 2004. In addition to trimming trees and inspecting / replacing wood poles, the company has invested in grid automation and smart grid technologies, which improve service reliability and reduces the length and number of outages year-round. However, Hurricane Matthew is expected to result in considerable outages due to its intensity.
Company officials said the most important thing customers can do is focus on safety.
Stay away from power lines that have fallen or are sagging. Consider all power lines energized, as well as trees or limbs in contact with power lines. Please report downed power lines to Duke Energy.
If a power line falls across a car 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 no part of your body is touching the car when your feet touch the ground.
- Families who have special medical needs or elderly members should closely monitor weather forecasts and make plans for potential alternate arrangements should an extended outage occur.
- Consider all downed lines energized and stay safely away. Use caution when walking outside as storm debris or standing water could conceal downed lines.
- Charge cell phones, computers and other electronic devices in advance of the storm to stay connected to important safety and response information.
Register for outage updates -- Customers can text OUT to 57801 to report an outage from their mobile phone. Be sure to use the mobile phone associated with your account. To stay informed of future power outages, sign up to receive power outage alerts from Duke Energy by texting REG to 57801 or choose from text, email or phone alerts by enrolling at duke-energy.com/OutageAlerts.
Know who to call -- Customers can report electrical emergencies such as downed lines and poles by calling Duke Energy's automated outage-reporting system for their specific service area:
- Duke Energy Carolinas – 800-769-3766
- Duke Energy Progress – 800-419-6356
Stay Connected -- Duke Energy offers a number of ways for customers to get information about outages and restoration efforts.
- Online -- www.duke-energy.com/matthew. Customers can access outage maps and other information online from a computer or mobile device. Once on the map, customers can zoom in to their specific location and hover over the outage indicator nearest their home. A message box will appear showing total customers affected, status and an estimated time of restoration, if available
- Facebook -- www.facebook.com/duke.energy/
- Twitter -- twitter.com/dukeenergy
About Duke Energy
Duke Energy is the largest electric power holding company in the United States. Its regulated utility operations serve approximately 7.3 million electric customers located in six states in the Southeast and Midwest, representing a population of approximately 23 million people. It's Commercial Portfolio and International business segments own and operate diverse power generation assets in North America and Latin America, including a growing portfolio of renewable energy assets in the United States.
Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a Fortune 250 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available at duke-energy.com.
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SOURCE Duke Energy