Duke Energy wins EEI award for outage restoration after 2014 extreme weather

The Edison Electric Institute presented Duke Energy with the association's "Emergency Recovery Award" for its outstanding power outage restoration efforts after two severe winter storms in North and South Carolina in February and March 2014.

The award is presented annually to EEI member companies to recognize their extraordinary efforts to restore power to customers after service disruptions caused by severe weather conditions or natural events.

Duke Energy has earned the award 11 times since EEI began presenting it in 1998.

The winners were chosen by a panel of judges following an international nomination process, and the awards were presented during EEI's Spring CEO and board of directors meeting in Washington, D.C.

A major winter storm brought significant accumulations of snow, sleet, and freezing rain to North and South Carolina in mid-February 2014, causing more than 200,000 customers to lose power.

The storm's extended stay and transition into a Nor'easter presented unique challenges for workers trying to restore power. Accumulated ice combined with heavy snow brought down trees, resulting in broken poles and downed wires.

More than 3,900 line and tree personnel, including crews from Duke Energy's Midwest and Florida operations, quickly mobilized to begin restoring power to customers. Three days after the storm passed, service to 99.5 percent of customers had been restored.

On March 6, 2014, the third largest ice storm for Duke Energy in the last 20 years moved across the Carolinas, causing more than 414,000 customers to lose power. Thick ice caused downed trees and wires, resulting in extensive infrastructure damage.

Many outages were caused by distribution system damage, which, in some cases, required a complete rebuild to restore service.

Crews from American Electric Power, Baltimore Gas and Electric, Dominion, Louisville Gas and Electric, South Carolina Electric & Gas Company, and numerous electric cooperatives assisted in restoration efforts through hazardous conditions.

A total of 4,400 line and tree personnel quickly and safely began restoring service to those affected by the severe weather.

By March 11, 99.4 percent of Duke Energy customers were restored.

"Duke Energy's exemplary efforts to restore service demonstrate the industry's commitment to serving its customers," said EEI President Tom Kuhn. "We commend the crews who braved dangerous, icy conditions in the wake of these severe winter storms, as they diligently worked to safely and quickly restore service."

"Responding to the aftermath of severe weather is just part of the job when you are an electric utility professional," said Lloyd Yates, Duke Energy's executive vice president of market solutions and president of the Carolinas region. "It's rewarding work that can be hazardous and exhausting, especially when there are back-to-back storms like last year.

"We are both honored and humbled to be recognized by EEI for serving our customers during these extraordinary weather events, and we appreciate the opportunity to again thank all of the crews and support personnel for Herculean efforts," he added.

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