Electrical service remains a problem

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Despite battling what appears as a &uot;war zone,&uot; repair crews with Dominion Power and Roanoke Electric Cooperative have made giant strides over the past five days in restoring power in the wake of Hurricane Isabel.

As of 2 p.m. on Tuesday, less than 600,000 Dominion Power customers in North Carolina and Virginia were without electrical service. The lights are back on for more than 1.2 million customers as Dominion officials are on track to meet their goal of having 75 percent of their clients back on line by today.

&uot;We’ve accomplished a lot in just a few days,&uot; said Jimmy Staton, Dominion’s Senior Vice-President of Operations. &uot;We know we still have a lot of work to do, but we’re going, night and day, to get everybody back on just as fast as we can.&uot;

Dominion Power has strengthened its manpower in the face of what Staton referred to as a, &uot;monumental task of rebuilding.&uot;

&uot;This restoration effort is far greater than anything we’ve ever faced,&uot; he noted. &uot;It is now an international effort as we have crews coming in from Canada, bringing us to over 11,000 workers in our ongoing effort to restore electrical service.&uot;

Staton said that current workforce is five times greater than the number of employees currently managed by Dominion Power.

&uot;They are doing a fantastic job,&uot; he noted. &uot;To get 1.2 million customers back on in less than five days is a super human effort.&uot;

Staton dispelled a rumor that Dominion Power was running short of the materials needed to make the repairs.

&uot;We are not experiencing significant supply and material issues,&uot; he said. &uot;There might be some small glitches from time to time getting those materials to the right places, but there are shortages of supplies.&uot;

Meanwhile, Marshall Cherry, Vice-President of Marketing and Member Services for Roanoke Electric, reported late Tuesday night that the co-op had topped the 10,000 mark en route to restoring service to its 14,500 members once without lights.

&uot;Our 12 substations in Halifax, Hertford, Northampton, Bertie and Gates counties are now all receiving power,&uot; stated Cherry. &uot;We are working around the clock to restore power on the primary lines and then the secondary lines.&uot;

Cherry said the areas most affected by the current lack of electrical service were Windsor, Merry Hill, Severn, Como, Gates County and central and eastern Bertie County.

&uot;We’ve solved our transmission problems at the substations,&uot; he said. &uot;We are continuing our rebuilding efforts out in the rural areas where we face major repairs to transmission lines and poles that were damaged by hurricane force winds as well as trees, limbs and other storm-related debris that fell onto our power lines.&uot;

Cherry confirmed that significant progress was being made on repairs to the members served by substations in the Aulander, Lewiston-Woodville, Jackson, Mapleton, Merry Hill, Windsor, Gum Fork (Rich Square), Easons Crossroad (Gates County) and Conway areas.

&uot;Realistically, it could take several more days before power is completely restored to all of those areas,&uot; he stated.

Roanoke Electric is being aided in their electrical grid rebuilding efforts by Lee Electric, Sumter Builders, Utilicom, Lewis Tree Service, Little River EMC, John Olson Tree Service, Rutherford EMC, Piedmont EMC, Berkley EMC, Edgecombe-Martin EMC, Pike Electric, Halifax EMC, Lumbee River EMC, Pitt-Greene EMC, Central EMC and Newberry EC.

The NC Civil Air Patrol aided Roanoke Electric by providing a flyover of the system in order to assess the damages.

&uot;We here at Roanoke Electric are so very thankful for all the assistance we have received during this process to rebuild our electrical system,&uot; concluded Cherry. &uot;But most of all we’d like to thank our loyal members who have demonstrated patience and understanding as we tackle this huge task of restoring their power.&uot;