Utilities across South Carolina said they are braced for an onslaught of toppled trees, downed power lines and widespread power outages, particularly in the Lowcountry because of Hurricane Matthew.
SCE&G expects more than 100,000 power outages from the storm, company officials said, predominantly in the Lowcountry. Significant outages could also arise in the Midlands, though the scope of outages here are not expected to rival those in Charleston.
As the storm wall moves closer to Charleston, SCE&G said it expects winds of 105 mph on Saturday. Outer bands of the storm could pack winds up to 75 miles per hour as far inland as Interstate 95.
“We expect widespread outages,” said Keller Kissam, SCE&G retail operations president.
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SCE&G, which serves approximately 706,000 electric customers in 24 counties in the central, southern and southwestern portions of South Carolina, will have up to 2,000 maintenance personnel repairing lines and restoring power, Kissam said.
After days of strategic planning, the company said it has maintenance crews in place and prepared to “stare down” the storm, one year after devastating floods struck much of South Carolina.
SCE&G also said that standby crews from Oklahoma, Texas and Mississippi are ready to assist, Kissam said.
“We feel we’re in a proper position from a manpower standpoint to be able to handle what is to come,” he said.
SCE&G customers are being urged to contact the utility if issues arise, preferably at sceg.com, where they can report an outage or download a new app to report an outage from their mobile devices.
The app will allow customers to text outages to the utility, and enable the utility to respond to customers with information about the location of crews in their area and even relay projected restoration times.
Call centers have also been staffed for the storm, Kissam said, though speaking to a person is not necessary to report the outage. Online reporting is the most efficient means of reporting problems, Kissam said. Customers can tract and report outages online at https://www.sceg.com/ and at 1-888-333-4465.
Santee Cooper, the public-owned utility in Monck’s Corner, said it also has been preparing all week for Hurricane Matthew.
“Our crews are ready to begin restoration efforts as soon as the storm moves through and the crews can safely begin the work,” Molly Gore, the utility’s communications manager, said Friday. “Crews have been loading trucks with supplies, checking their equipment and making other last-minute preparations today. We have additional equipment staged across our transmission and distribution system.”
Santee Cooper also has crews from other states coming in to help, Gore said, including 32 crews from Tennessee, Alabama, Texas, Maryland and North Carolina. Customers can monitor outages and restoration efforts at www.santeecooper.com/stormcenter.
Duke Energy, which has 730,000 customers in South Carolina across two utilities – Duke Energy Carolinas (primarily the Upstate) and Duke Energy Progress (primarily the Pee Dee and northeastern part of the state) — said it sent 300 additional personnel from the Upstate Friday to Florence to ride out the storm.
The company has more than 4,400 employees in South Carolina. “Once the storm passes they will be in position to address whatever damage they find in the Florence area or shift to areas where our customers are harder hit,” said Ryan Mosier, Duke Energy Carolinas spokesman.
Registered customers can automatically access information about specific power outages through a free service offered by Duke.
Duke customers can text OUT to 57801 to report outages from their mobile phone. For more information, visit: www.duke-energy.com/matthew.
Roddie Burris: 803-771-8398