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Daunting restoration ahead for Duke as Carolinas bear brunt of Matthew's destruction

Duke EnergyCorp.'s utilities in North Carolina and South Carolina had restoredpower to approximately 825,000 customers by midafternoon Oct. 10, down from a peakof 1.2 million outages in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.

The remaining 430,000 outages broke down to 308,000 in NorthCarolina and 122,000 in South Carolina for the systems of and . Butfor the hardest-hit areas, Duke Energy Storm Director Bobby Simpson warned onOct. 10, customers may not see power restored until Oct. 16.

"The impact of this, and what we thought was going tohappen from the forecasts we were getting, we were ready: we had resources inplace, they were staged and they were lined up with what we expected tohappen," Simpson said on a conference call with news media. "But thepunch was bigger."

Hurricane Matthew killed at least 22 people in the U.S.,nearly half of them in North Carolina, and more than 500 in Haiti, according tothe Associated Press, though government officials warned the death toll couldrise amid significant flooding likely to continue through the week. HurricaneMatthew also left more than 2 million customers without power from Virginia toFlorida over the course of the storm. Simpson described one utility crewheading to Wilmington, N.C., getting stranded by flooding on Interstate 40, andanother crew that became stuck when a secondary road crumbled beneath theirline truck.

Duke said it has almost 7,000 crews working to repair itselectrical system and that number could double in coming days. "We havemore than 800 poles down, and we're still counting, thousands of spans of wire.One of the things that has had a big impact is we had 57 transmission linesdown," Simpson said. "These lines are built to sustain strong windsand it's uncommon to have that many transmission lines down. So getting thoserebuilt and restored is a key part of the restoration. We have restored 13 ofthose 57 already."

Simpson also noted that substations were flooded, and Duke'screws cannot access them until floodwaters recede. "There are some caseswhere we've had to de-energize [substations] and move the load to anotherfacility, just from a safety standpoint," he added.

The SouthCarolina Public Service Authority, which operates as Santee Cooper,said Hurricane Matthew hit the utility's transmission and distribution systemharder than any storm since Hurricane Hugo in 1989. As of 3 p.m. Oct. 10, theutility reported 30,661 customers without power and said it had restored powerto roughly 19,400 customers.

South CarolinaElectric & Gas Co. reported 96,864 customers without power,according to its website Oct. 10, from more than 290,000 outages reported atthe peak of the storm. As of midafternoon Oct. 10, crews had restored power tomore than 180,000 customers. The SCANA Corp. subsidiary said its hardest-hit areas werecustomers in the coastal counties of Charleston, Beaufort, Dorchester andColleton, and Richland County farther inland. SCANA spokesmanPatrick Flynn said in an email that there was "no significant operationalimpact" to the nuclear reactor, and two under construction, at thecompany's V.C.Summer nuclear facility.

Georgia PowerCo. said it expects to have service restored to more than 90% ofthe 340,000 customers impacted by the storm by midnight Oct. 12. The utility said itscrews have restored power to more than 218,000 customers, with approximately122,000 customers still without power in coastal Georgia. Damage on the GeorgiaCoast is concentrated in Chatham,Glynn, Effingham, Bulloch and Libertycounties. Georgia Power reported approximately 1,000 damaged or broken powerpoles, 80 miles of wire in need of replacement and more than 1,800 fallen treescausing damage to electrical equipment.

In Florida, 150,011 customers were without power as of 3p.m. on Oct. 10, according to the Florida Public Service Commission. Municipalutilities had 93,284 customers without power, according to the PSC. made up much of the rest, with 41,690 outages reported on its website as of 4p.m.

The company said it appeared its nuclear plant wasunaffected. Unit 1 of the two-unit plant was already offline for a refuelingoutage, and unit 2 was shut down in advance of the hurricane. "They arejust performing some final inspections and we'll be bringing unit 2 back onlinein the near future," spokesman Peter Robbins said Oct. 10. "Windswere far less than were forecast, which was great news, and preparations werein place and the site didn't sustain any damage." FPL's plant was unaffected.

Duke EnergyFlorida LLC said it had restored power for nearly 300,000 customerssince Matthew exited the utility's service territory, with roughly 8,500without power as of 2 p.m. on Oct. 10. Most of those outages were in VolusiaCounty, where Duke Florida's system was hit hardest. The utility said itsoutages peaked at 2 p.m. on Oct. 7, with 165,000 customers without power. DukeFlorida aims to have all customers impacted by the storm who can receive powerrestored before midnight Oct. 10, though service could be delayed for customerswith damaged meters or equipment.

Virginia Electricand Power Co., which does business as Dominion Virginia Power, saidOct. 10 that it had restored power to more than 70% of the 462,000 customersimpacted by Hurricane Matthew. The Dominion Resources Inc. subsidiary said 80,900 customersremained without power at 3,200 locations as of 5 p.m. on Oct. 10. The majorityof Dominion's impacted customers are in southeast Virginia and northeast NorthCarolina.