Duke Energy said it prevented more than 17,000 power outages during Hurricane Idalia thanks to improvements it made on the energy grid in the Southeastern United States.
Duke, which serves 8.2 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky, and collectively owns 50 gigawatts of energy capacity. It also serves 1.6 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, and Kentucky within its natural gas unit.
According to Duke, the smart, self-healing grid helped avoid the outages during Hurricane Idalia, which made landfall in Florida at the end of August as a Category 3 hurricane. The storm brought on big winds, heavy rainfall, and high storm surge in many parts of the state. Idalia also impacted nearly 200,000 power customers within Duke Energy Florida’s service territory.
The power grid in Florida has a self-healing system that can quickly identify power outages and alternate energy pathways to restore service faster when an outage occurs, Duke said.
The tool also enables linemen to manually restore power in other areas following a major storm or hurricane. The company currently serves more than 60% of customers in Florida with self-healing capabilities on its main power distribution lines, and it plans to reach around 80% in the coming years.
“Every hurricane season, we consistently see our grid improvements help avoid outages, restore service faster, and increase reliability for our customers,” Melissa Seixas, Duke Energy Florida state president, said in a statement.
Duke’s confidence in its power grid capabilities comes as other states, including Texas, have come under fire for long-lasting and widespread power outages during major weather events. Texas, for example, hit a new record for peak energy demand in July during a heat wave, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. While the state was able to maintain its power grid during that time, The Lone Star State became front-page news during a deep freeze in 2021. Many Texans lost power for a week or so, and 264 people died as a result.
Texas overall is one of the states with the most time of interrupted power, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which found Texans experienced on average three power outages per year and 20 hours without power during 2021. Floridians, by comparison, were among the shortest total time of electricity interruptions in 2021.