Editor's note: Some of Duke Energy’s corporate communications teammates went into North Carolina areas hit by the Dec. 9 snow storm to help provide information to customers and to tell the stories of the aftermath.
Bill Norton, @DE_BillNorton
When the power goes out, everyone wants to know when repair crews will arrive. Duke Energy can make the fastest repairs if damage assessors make sure the right crews arrive, with the correct expertise and proper equipment.
“You don’t want to send two trucks for a two-person job,” said Robert Sipes, vice president of Western Carolinas Modernization. “If it’s a simple limb on a line, two men can safely remove that, close the fuse, and move on to the next job – all while another truck is working elsewhere.”
“On the other hand, if that falling limb damaged a pole needing to be replaced, and you send just one truck, they can’t get the job done. So proper assessment is critical to getting power back on fast.”
When Duke Energy is restoring power after a major storm like the one that smashed into the Carolinas Dec. 8 and 9, everyone helps. Sipes is normally in charge of the company’s work to replace the Asheville, North Carolina, coal-fired plant with a natural gas plant. Today he was walking lines in Buncombe County with Gary Hamrick, general manager of major projects/grid solutions in the Midwest. The two senior company officials know power lines as well as anyone, so returning to the field in support of repair crews comes naturally.
After their inspection, they report to a feeder coordinator – a lineworker assigned to that corridor every day and can easily envision what they’re reporting back. The feeder coordinator then deploys a crew with the right equipment. In the case of repairs near Arden Presbyterian Church on Hendersonville Road near Asheville Dec. 9, that involved multiple bucket trucks specially equipped to replace a damaged pole.
“After a crew makes a repair we’ll send them to a nearby school or other parking lot, not all the way back to the main staging area, because they can be deployed faster if they stay close,” said Hamrick. “If customers drive by and see trucks sitting in a parking lot and wonder why they’re not working, they probably just finished one job and are a few minutes away from getting their next assignment. It’s all about logistics and efficiency.”
And as that crew is making repairs, Sipes and Hamrick will leapfrog ahead to the next site, making sure that as soon as crews are available for another job, they know where to go and what’s needed.
“People might not even notice us, because it’s just two guys in a passenger car, not heavy equipment,” Sipes said. “But if we do our scouting right, everyone gets their power on a lot faster, and that makes everyone happy.”
North Carolina, Duke Energy mobilize to keep state safe and warm
Meredith Archie, @DE_MeredithA
A white blanket covered downtown Raleigh on Sunday morning. But the heavy snow, sleet and freezing rain continued to fall in the Triangle throughout the day, creating hazards and treacherous road conditions.
North Carolina has 5,000 miles of major interstates and highways and 11,000 miles of primary of roads; so as you can imagine, the N.C. Department of Transportation has a big job when it comes to clearing roads and making them safe for travel. I had the privilege to talk with Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon about the partnership between NCDOT and Duke Energy during storm response.
Keeping customers’ lights on would not be possible without the partnership between the company and NCDOT and other national, state and local agencies. We work together to help navigate hazards, road closures and travel routes, secure police escorts and coordinate access to the hardest-hits areas to make repairs and restore power and keep North Carolinians safe and warm.
Crews fight through hazardous conditions
Jeff Brooks, @DE_JeffB,
We spent Sunday traveling around the North Carolina Triad as crews worked to restore power.
I’ve worked nearly a dozen winter storms in my career, and driving conditions were some of the most challenging I’ve ever encountered. We saw vehicles of all sizes stranded along roads, interchanges, ramps and front yards. We even helped rescue a news crew that became stranded in a snow drift.
These are the conditions that Duke Energy crews are experiencing. While they’re working to restore power as quickly as possible, the company’s first priority is their safety. We appreciate your patience as we respond to this winter storm.