How much longer?

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Dominion Virginia Power said Sunday that it expects to restore service by Tuesday night for 80-85 percent of customers who lost power following two days of severe storms on Friday and Saturday. By Thursday, the company expects to have 90-95 percent of affected customers back on line, and virtually all remaining customers by Saturday night.

In areas of the most severe damage, service may not be restored fully until Sunday, July 8.  However, additional significant storm activity could push back the schedule even further.

The back-to-back storms on Friday and Saturday nights brought the most significant damage the company has ever suffered outside of hurricanes. Dominion reported that outages are now approaching 1 million of its 2.4 million electric distribution customers.

The company said the pace of restoration work will vary by region and extent of storm damage. In parts of Northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley, where the damage was catastrophic in some 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.

Power has been restored to more than half of the customers who lost power during one of the hottest spells so far of the summer. About 900,000 customers lost service because of Friday night’s storms. An additional 55,000 customers were affected by Saturday night’s storms. As of 3 p.m. Sunday, service was restored to about 600,000 customers and 388,000 still were without power.

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 says 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,” Rodney Blevins, vice president, electric distribution operations, said in a statement.  “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.

Initial restoration work focuses on large electric transmission lines and critical facilities such as emergency call centers, hospitals and cooling centers. The focus then turns to power lines serving large numbers of customers and then to neighborhood circuits.

A state of emergency has been declared in Virginia, and cooling centers have been opened by local governments in affected areas. 

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