Home Energy and Environment Credit Where Credit is Due: Thank You Dominion Virginia Power!

Credit Where Credit is Due: Thank You Dominion Virginia Power!

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As readers of this blog, and Raising Kaine before it, are undoubtedly aware, we haven’t exactly been big fans of Dominion Virginia Power, largely for reasons related to the company’s lack of aggressiveness in moving away from dirty, carbon-and-other-pollutant-spewing fossil fuels. We are not retracting those criticisms, and in fact would redouble our argument following the horrendous “derecho” event the other day and massive heat wave we’re experiencing here and around the country. As NBC Washington’s Chief Meterologist Doug Kammerer said the other day, “If we did not have global warming, we wouldn’t see this.” And that global warming, of course, is being fueled (literally) by humanity spewing greenhouse gases, including CO2 from the combustion of coal and natural gas, into the atmosphere. That needs to stop, and soon, or we’re all in deep, deep trouble (except a lot more heat waves and “derecho” type events, for instance).

Today, however, I want to give credit where credit is due, which is to the superb, even heroic, efforts of Dominion Virginia Power’s employees (and especially power crews!) in restoring electricity as rapidly as possible to hundreds of thousands of Virginians following the devastating series of storms that wreaked such havoc in our state on Friday night.

Making Dominion’s efforts even more impressive are several factors: 1) we’re in the midst of an historic heat wave, which means that the company’s resources presumably were already strained to the limit dealing with that when the “derecho” hit; 2) unlike a blizzard or hurricane that is predicted days in advance, these storms came on us suddenly, with essentially no warning as to their scope and severity, meaning that power companies like Dominion had almost no time to prepare in any way;  3) this was a widespread event over many states, meaning that there’s a lot of competition for emergency power crews to come in and help us from out of Virginia; and 4) Dominion’s power crews are having to work 10-hour shifts in the sweltering heat we’re experiencing, which cannot be pleasant to put it mildly, and could even be dangerous without proper precautions, training, etc. (which apparently they have, as I don’t believe there have been any reports of Dominion workers being hurt in all this).

So, what have the results been so far? For starters, Dominion has now restored power to more than 70% of the 1 million or so of their customers who lost power in Friday night’s vicious storms (about 60 hours later, 244,332 customers remain without power). That compares favorably to Pepco, which reports that it “has restored power to about half of the more than 440,000 customers who lost power as a result of Friday’s storm.”

In addition, Dominion has done a great job using social media to communicate with people during this situation. I checked Dominion’s Twitter feed (with over 16,000 followers, for instance, and there have been hundreds of tweets since the storm hit, providing all kinds of useful information, even responding to individual customers with questions. Same thing with Dominion’s Facebook page (15,271 “likes”) and YouTube channel (see above for the latest). Great job on the social media front!

This type of response clearly just doesn’t “happen;” instead, it’s got to be the result of tremendous planning, effective management, hard-working and motivated employees, lots of factors really. I’ve worked on energy issues for over 20 years now, and I can definitely say that the vast majority of people don’t realize how complex these systems are, from production to processing to generation to transmission to emergency response  and contingency planning, the list goes on and on. So, in this case kudos to Dominion Virginia Power, and of course the crews who are out there right now sweltering in the heat and humidity while working to restore the remaining 30% or so of customers still without power. From the crew at Blue Virginia, we’d just like to say, “thank you!”

  • Progressive

    I 2nd this.

  • It also seems as though every summer we read this story:  Virginia gets the job done a lot faster than Pepco.  I don’t really know why that is, but as a Virginian, I’m thankful to be on this side of the river.

    On the flip side, there was the Verizon debacle, however, especially the 911 service going down.  It was my understanding that Manassas and Manassas City still didn’t have 911 as of this morning, which is unacceptable.

  • totallynext

    Not only this emergency, but their response to Ivan was outstanding!,, we had power 5 days ahead of schedule with Ivan after it literally took out a complete street of power poles.

    Their communication and the information available to customers is outstanding.   Cox sucks, no where to get service updates on web page or Facebook.  If your not gonna use technology to communicate in times like these, then why even bother.

  • TheOpenSociety

    I guess your expectations are lower than mine.  There is so much that could have been handled better about this.  For example, the number to call in to report an outage during this event is incredibly bad. Making people go through a series of promptes to end up at the same place is just dumb.  And my neighbor called in a few times because he kept getting a call back telling him that power had been restored, when it hadn’t been.  Very lame.  I don’t know if this had anything to do with us getting our power back early this morning, but the rest of us decided to call in yesterday to report the outage as well because Dominion seemed to have wrong information about it.  

    I have no doubt that Dominion employees are working hard and they deserve our thanks.  But the company does not.  Three days or two days without power when there is no snow or ice or water on the ground and no wires or poles in our area is just too long and should be unacceptable to any service company.  It makes one wonder what will happen if we have a real hurricane?  And saying that at least Dominion has succeeded better than Pepco is really faint praise.