‘Snowzilla’ pounds East Coast, utilities work to restore power

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Winter storm Jonas is finished roaring through the East Coast but it’ll be remembered for a while.

Tens of thousands of electricity customers lost power due to the mammoth storm which hit North Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and Georgia especially hard.

The Weather Channel-named storm, also called “Snowzilla” by some, also killed 29 people while stranding thousands of travelers due to closed roads and airline cancellations. Snowfalls were as deep as three feet in some regions, while New Jersey coastal communities also had flooding.

Below is a short wrap-up of how some utilities dealt with restoring power after the storm.

Duke Energy

Jonas hit the Charlotte, North Carolina-based utility giant squarely on the chin, causing widespread outages under snow, ice, sleet and high winds.

Bobby Simpson, Duke Energy’s storm director, said most customers were restored by Sunday despite some 50,000 still without power earlier that weekend. The company has had as many as 7,000 workers in the field since.

"We have restored more than 484,000 outages since Friday and we'd like to thank our customers for their patience and understanding while we work in the severe elements to get power back on," added Simpson. "Our restoration efforts become more challenging today as we respond to unique outages with extensive damage in hard-hit areas."

Wake, Johnston and Nash counties in North Carolina had the most outages late in the weekend. Customers can see current outage statuses at duke-energy.com/winterstorm.

Duke Energy added more than 1,400 extra responders from Florida and other regions to deal with the storm’s impact.

Baltimore Gas & Electric

At the height of the storm, according to BG&E, the peak number of customers experiencing outages was about 5,500. By Sunday, BG&E had restored service to nearly all of the nearly 12,000 customers who lost power on Friday and Saturday.

Crews came from 15 states to provide assistance to the utility, including crews from sister utility ComEd in Chicago. Both are unit of Exelon Corp.

“We were in preparation mode for several days leading up to the storm, so we were able to start restoration efforts as soon as our customers began experiencing outages,” said Rob Biagiotti, vice president and chief customer officer for BG&E.”

BG&E delivers power to more than 1.25 million electric customers and more than 650,000 natural gas customers in central Maryland.


The Philadelphia-based electric and gas utility put 3,000 employees, local contractors and crews from sister utility ComEd on around-the-clock duty to restore service to fewer than 11,000 customers impacted during the two-day storm.

 “Our customers depend on us to safely deliver the energy they need,” said PECO President and CEO Craig Adams in a statement. “We invest in our system and work hard year round to prevent those outages that are preventable when winter storms occur.”

In 2015, PECO invested more than $500 million to improve its electric and natural gas service for customers. This included inspecting more than 10,000 miles of aerial and underground lines and equipment; completing more than $36 million of tree trimming and vegetation work; and replacing more than 95,000 feet of natural gas line with new plastic pipe.

PECO provides electricity to 1.6 million customers and natural gas to 506,000 in southeastern Pennsylvania.


Public Service Enterprise Group was generally back to normal Sunday afternoon after restoring power to 4,360 customers who lost service during the blizzard.

“Our people and systems performed exceptionally well despite the adverse weather conditions that made travel treacherous and working conditions less than ideal,” said John Latka, senior vice president-electric and gas operations. “In addition to restoring power, our employees responded to 500 gas emergencies and 1,000 no-heat calls.

The upgrades we have made to our infrastructure – plus all the preparations we made for this storm – served us well. We thank our customers for their patience as we navigated snow-bound streets, many of which are barely passable this morning.”

Subsidiary PSEG Long Island reported that by Sunday only 125–or a fraction of the system’s 1.1 million customers–were without electric service. The utility asked for customer patience and linemen worked to deal with high winds and cold temperatures.

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