Gov. Nikki Haley Tuesday hailed the state’s power companies for pushing to restore electricity to more than 290,000 customers who remained without power at midday Tuesday. The power companies said they are fighting the after-effects of Hurricane Matthew, not the least of which is saturated ground. The utilities still expect to have most power restored by Sunday.
Here’s the latest:
As of 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Duke Energy had 67,400 customers without power statewide, the utility said. In Darlington County, one of the utility’s hardest hit areas, 6,200 customers were without power. The company still estimates all power will be restored by Sunday evening.
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“We fully expect most customers to be restored before then,” said Ryan Mosier, Duke Energy Carolinas spokesman. “That (Sunday) reflects the system estimate for the last customer to be restored.”
Still, in some of the hardest hit communities where flood waters remain or continue to rise, it will be several days before Duke Energy can access the area, Mosier said. Additionally, customers whose homes or meter boxes have sustained substantial damage will need to make repairs before the utility can restore service, he said.
The utility continues to bolster its restoration crew numbers, having quadrupled resources Tuesday (2,300 last week, nearly 9,000 this week) from prior to the storm. More than 1,500 additional resources were en route Tuesday, many of those heading to a large staging area in Sumter.
“It’s very hazardous out there in many areas, and conditions aren’t going to improve quickly,” Mosier said. “The sun may be out today, but it doesn’t mean everything is okay. We’re looking at a long, difficult road to recovery.”
Customers can see more detailed information about their specific outage by checking Duke’s online outage map at www.duke-energy.com/matthew.
Fewer than 42,000 SCE&G customers were still without power Tuesday morning, mainly in hard-hit areas along the coast, the utility said. At the peak of the storm, more than 290,000 customers were without power.
SCE&G is offering county-by-county estimates for restoring power. The company’s outage map can be found at www.sceg.com/outages/.
“We know the number one question on people’s minds is when will my power be restored,” said Keller Kissam, president of retail operations for SCE&G. “We’re providing county-by-county estimates to help our customers plan and begin to return to normalcy after this devastating storm.
“While we’re confident we can meet these estimates, we also know that there are some areas in Beaufort County that remain inaccessible, and it will take more time to restore in those few areas.”
Estimated times of restoration range from Thursday to Sunday, with the exception of Daufuskie Island, Fripp Island and Hunting Island, which could potentially exceed estimates because of a lack of accessibility and the extent of damage in those areas, the utility said.
More than 1,000 off-system crew members and 2,000 SCE&G employees are assisting with storm restoration efforts. Damage assessment and restoration efforts will continue throughout the week, as crews completing work inland join others working in hard-hit areas along the coast.
More information on SCE&G’s restoration process can be found online at www.sceg.com/restore. For up-to-date storm information and to report an outage visit www.sceg.com/storm. To report a downed line, call 1-888-333-4465.
South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. has approximately 706,000 customers in 24 counties in the central, southern and southwestern portions of South Carolina.
South Carolina electric cooperatives
At 5 p.m. Tuesday, the state’s electric cooperatives were reporting 106,000 outages across service territories from one end of the state’s coast to the other and inland to the greater Florence area, the cooperative’s association said. That is down from 300,000 outages at the height of the storm.
“The men are working 14 to 16 hours a day,” said Lawrence Hinz, Coastal Electric Cooperative CEO. “They eat supper at 10 p.m. I hope consumers understand that we are working as hard, fast and safely as we can.”
Hinz said he worries that consumers will run out of patience as the cooperative nears the end of its third day of repairs.
In the woods on the edge of a rural Colleton County corn field, repair crews were using a 30-ton vehicle, moving on flexible track rather than wheels, to roll into hurricane-danaged areas where regular utility bucket trucks cannot go, the utilities said.
The ground is saturated with rain, so the track-mounted machine works multiple jobs – towing wheeled bucket trucks into the woods and drilling holes for power poles and smaller guy-wire anchors. It carries its own bucket for raising line workers up to power line height.
“Ice, wind, ice-and-wind, rain, rain-and-wind — they’re all different in the way they affect restoration,” said Hinz. “A two-fer like the hurricane-force wind plus rain that we got is tougher the deeper you go into remote areas.” For up-to-date outage information – by county or by electric cooperative – go to www.ecsc.org.
The cooperatives association includes 20 independent, member-owned electric cooperatives that build and maintain the state's largest power-distribution system, it said.
Approximately 31,000 Santee Cooper customers in Berkeley, Georgetown and Horry counties were still without electricity late Tuesday afternoon.
Distribution crews had restored power to about 8,000 residential and commercial customers over the past 24 hours, the public-owned utility said. At the peak of Matthew’s aftermath, 137,000 Santee Cooper customers were without power – more than twice the number who lost power after Hurricane Hugo.
Flooded areas and fallen trees continue to challenge Santee Cooper transmission and distribution crews working to restore power to customers, the utility said, but steady progress marked the third day of restoration.
Utility and contract crews re-energized nine more transmission lines Tuesday, leaving 15 still out. Of those 15, just four directly impact wholesale customers, specifically three electric cooperatives. Since the effort began, Santee Cooper has re-energized more than 70 lines serving cooperatives, municipalities and industrial customers.
“Our crews have worked hard and made great strides the past few days, restoring more than 100,000 retail customers and a significant part of our transmission system along the Grand Strand,” said Mike Poston, vice president of retail operations.
“We are at the point now where we’re addressing the most difficult problems, where it’s hard to even reach the trouble spots. Our customers have been so supportive throughout this event, and I hope they will continue to be patient and know that we will continue to work around the clock until we’re done.”
Santee Cooper has approximately 900 people assessing and working on the lines, including line and tree crews from several states who are aiding Santee Cooper’s own crews, the utility said. It produces power for 2 million customers in the state.
Call Santee Cooper at 1-888-769-7688 to report downed power lines. Customers can also report power outages at that number or at www.santeecooper.com/stormcenter. To learn more, visit www.santeecooper.com.
Roddie Burris: 803-771-8398