Dominion recoils from 1 million outages during stormy weekend

Dominion Virginia Power said the storms on June 29 and 30 resulted in the most significant damage suffered by the company outside of hurricanes. Outages reported are approaching 1 million of Dominion (NYSE: D)’s 2.4 million electric distribution customers.

Dominion said on July 1 that it expects to restore service by the evening of July 3 for 80 to 85 percent of customers whose power was disrupted by two days of severe storms at the end of last week. The company expects to restore service to 90 to 95 percent of affected customers by the evening of July 5, and virtually all remaining customers by Saturday night. As of 3 p.m. on July 1, service was restored to about 600,000 customers, and 388,000 still were without power.

The pace of restoration work will vary by region and the extent of storm damage. In parts of northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley, where the damage was catastrophic in many cases, the repairs will not be completed until the end of the restoration period. Many poles and cross arms need to be replaced, and other infrastructure needs to be rebuilt.

Dominion has more than 3,000 employees, contractors and retirees working to restore service. Another 1,200 utility workers from 13 states – including Kansas, Texas, Wisconsin and Florida – and Quebec have arrived or are on their way to assist. The company is seeking additional help, and work will continue around the clock until power is restored to all customers.

"Unlike a hurricane, this storm could not be forecasted well ahead of time by the National Weather Service," said Rodney Blevins, vice president of electric distribution operations. "That is complicating restoration efforts because crews and supplies could not be positioned in advance."

Blevins also noted that the large scale of the storm damage – extending over many states and affecting more than 3 million customers in all – means there is a large demand for outside help. Further complicating the situation are communications infrastructure problems, especially in northern Virginia.

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