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Power Companies On Ice Storm: We Did As Well As Expected

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Now that power has been restored to millions of customers in North Carolina, it was time for the state's utility companies to answer some tough questions on Monday.

Officials from Carolina Power and Light, Duke Power, Dominion Power and Electracities appeared before the state Utilities Commission to report about their response to the outages.

In an after-the-winter storm critique, the state's major power companies told how they planned and reacted to the worst winter storm ever.

More than 1 million customers across North Carolina were without power -- some for as many as eight days.

Overall, officials told the commission they were pleased with their response to the winter storm restoration, even though it taxed their facilities far more than expected.

The power companies reported to the state how they responsed to outages and how crews were brought in from other states.

CP&L said it brought in crews from 19 states.

"I'd like to point out that in looking and in reviewing our storm model, we actually took a proactive approach by bringing in more crews than we normally would have in anticipating three-eighths of an inch of ice accumulation," said Jack Joyner of CP&L.

Fred Day of CP&L explained who gets reconnected first.

"We give first priority to facilities needed to ensure public health and safety as well public infrastructures such as water and wastewater treatment facilities. This also includes hospitals, law enforcement centers, nursing homes and the like," he said.

At the worst part of the storm, CP&L said it was losing 1,000 customers a minute.

"Let me share with you how quickly the situation deteriorated. Wednesday night at 11 p.m. we had a total of 7,000 customers out. By 3 a.m. Thursday morning, the number had climbed to approximately 314,000 customers that experienced an outage," Joyner said.

Duke Power said its power outages were twice the number of any past storm and pointed out that $130 million in cleanup costs will not be passed along to consumers.

Monday's meeting was open to the public, but not for comment. The public is invited to weigh in during

hearings across the state

. The first public hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Durham City Hall.

A report and recommendations will go before Gov. Mike Easley early next year.


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