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Winter storm knocks out power for about 775,000 in Mid-Atlantic states

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Winter storm knocks out power for about 775,000 in Mid-Atlantic states

Highlights

More than 2 feet of snow in some areas

More than 10,000 workers deployed

Houston — A weekend winter storm knocked out electricity for about 775,000 customers in the Carolinas, Tennessee and Virginia, cutting Duke Energy Carolina loads by more than 2,000 MW from the forecast at times, but by 4 pm the number of powerless customers had fallen to about 150,000.

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By Monday, the storm that began hitting the region Saturday and Sunday had dumped more than 34 inches of snow on Mount Mitchell, about 130 miles west of Charlotte, North Carolina, according to The Weather Channel.

As of about 1:30 pm EST, Monday, Duke Energy had restored service to more than 504,000 customers, in the Carolinas, but still had about 137,000 without power. As of 4 pm EST, that number had dropped to about 105,000.

"Some of our areas have more than a foot of snow on the ground with roads that are barely passable," Duke spokeswoman Erin Culbert said in an email Monday. "That multiplies the difficulty our crews have to restore power."

Duke deployed a workforce of almost 9,000 people to help restore service.

The US Energy Information Administration reported loads falling below forecast by 2,217 MW -- 8.9% -- as of 8 am Monday, and it had stayed below forecast -- averaging 788 MW -- since 5 pm Sunday. Loads averaged more than 1,000 below forecast virtually all day Saturday. Culbert said she knew of no Duke generation site that could not operate because of storm-related issues.

VIRGINIA HIT HARD, TOO

In Virginia, Dominion had about 100,000 customers who lost electricity due to the winter storm, mainly in the south-central area near Williamsburg, Virginia, Dominion spokesman Dan Genest said Monday. As of 4 pm EST, fewer than 14,000 customers remained without service. Dominion deployed about 1,000 of its own people to restore service, and Genest said, "We should have everybody back on sometime tomorrow."

More than 2 feet of snow fell on White Top in far southwestern Virginia, The Weather Channel said, but Genest said the snow that hit the mountainous western part of the state was "dry and fluffy," which typically has little effect on power lines.

"The snow that hit Williamsburg was wetter and brought down trees," Genest said.

Dominion is in the PJM Interconnection, and Saturday and Sunday's average real-time on-peak prices for the Dominion Hub were higher than last Saturday and Sunday's comparable numbers -- by about $1 and about $8, respectively. The average real-time off-peak numbers were down about $3 on Saturday but up about $5 on Sunday.

Monday's real-time numbers were unavailable as of publication time.

American Electric Power's Appalachian Power unit was also affected by the storm in eastern Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, cutting power to about 25,000 customers over the course of the storm, spokeswoman Teresa Hamilton Hall said Monday. AEP deployed more than 1,000 people to restore service and had cut that outage number below 14,000 as of 4 pm EST.

Workers came from AEP utilities in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio to help, Hall said.

"We hope by late Thursday to restore service to everyone affected by the storm," she said.

Winter storm outages as of 4 pm EST Monday
Utility Total
Duke (N.C. and S.C.) 105,507
Appalachian Power (Tenn., Va.) 13,954
Dominion (Va.) 13,832
N.C. Electric Cooperatives 10,337
Total 143,630

-- Mark Watson, markham.watson@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Gail Roberts, newsdesk@spglobal.com