Florence Knocks Out Power to 1/2 Million within First Few Hours. Up to 3 Million Outages Expected

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On Friday morning, just a few hours into what is expected to be a multi-day storm, Hurricane Florence had knocked out power to half million households and businesses in the Carolinas — and the numbers kept climbing, according to Poweroutages.us.

power outages

Tornadoes within Hurricane Florence. By Simeonn and NASA/Shutterstock.com

In a news conference Wednesday before the hurricane struck, Duke Energy executives said power may be out for weeks, as the powerful storm dumps historic rain and floods the southeast states.

“This is no ordinary storm and people could be without power for a very long time, not days, but weeks” — David Fountain, Duke

“This is no ordinary storm and people could be without power for a very long time, not days, but weeks,” said David Fountain, president of Duke Energy North Carolina.

About 20,000 workers were prepared to help with restoration at that time, with 9,400 sent from other utilities as far away as Texas. Even with the additional workers, the utility expects restoration to be difficult given the likelihood of extensive power line collapse and widespread flooding of utility equipment.

Based on historic modeling, the utility expects 1 to 3 million customers to lose power, with the worse case scenario occuring with a Wilmington landfall and a turn by the storm into North Carolina.

Note: The Department of Energy is also providing periodic information about outages and other hurricane related data here

Southeast slow on microgrids

The Southeast has been relatively slow to install microgrids – so far. Similar storms elsewhere have acted as a catalyst for their development.

Connecticut launched a community microgrid grant program following Hurricane Irene and a freak snow storm in October 2011 that caused prolonged power outages as trees, heavy with foliage and snow, brought down utility wires.

Following Superstorm Sandy in 2012, other Northeast states began offering grant programs for development of microgrids for communities, hospitals, water treatment facilities and other critical infrastructure.  Most notable among them is the NY Prize, administered by the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority.

Last year’s Hurricane Maria — blamed for 3,000 deaths in Puerto Rico after parts of the island lost power for months — led to significant microgrid development on the island. The US Army Corp and private companies installed simple microgrids for quick power restoration. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico’s government created rules to encourage more sophisticated microgrid projects and issued a solicitation for five microgrids at industrial sites.

In California, microgrids are being developed to ensure power when earthquakes or wildfires damage the central grid.

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Microgrids help keep power flowing during a disaster by islanding — or disconnecting — from the disabled grid and activating on-site generators that supply electricity to customers nearby.

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*This story was originally published Sept. 12, 2018 and updated Sept. 14, 2018.

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About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of MicrogridKnowledge.com. She has been writing about energy for more than three decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.


  1. Its time to think seriously about microgrids at the city/town residential block, thousands of them, in fact.

    In addition, we need to come up with a way to integrate the existing building stock into the design of the future grid. Back in the 20’s old Sam Insull figured out a way to hook power lines up to the existing housing stock. In return he got monopoly status for the utilities. Now, with advent of building science we know how to retrofit the existing buildings so that they are VERY energy efficient. What we are left with, having taken care of the building envelope are the “plug loads”, most of which use direct current if they included electronics. PV produces DC, batteries use DC. Hey not switch to DC, Edision would rise again:-)

  2. Mike France says:

    This is fake news. Theres only 80K Duke Power customers down.