When will the lights come back on? Dominion works on outages

Published 2:37 am Saturday, July 8, 2023

It’s going to be late Saturday morning at least, if not later, before all the lights come back on in Buckingham and Cumberland counties. As of 1 a.m. Saturday, there were 1,362 people without power in both areas, with the majority of outages focused around Trents Mill, Pleasant Valley and Rosney. By 2 a.m., that number had dropped some, but repairs were still needed in Gold Hill and Arvonia. 

For that you can thank the series of storms that tore through the area Friday night, destroying trees, piling up debris and knocking down power lines in some cases. Now work crews are used to all of that. But that was round one. Workers are concerned it may become harder to repair the damage as the overnight rolls on, due to a forecasted second set of storms. 

There was a period of calm in between, giving crews time to repair some of the easier to reach lines. Some, for example, near or right next to roadways. All of the easier to reach spots were fixed by 1:30 a.m. But then workers started getting into the rural areas, the places where you have to go off-road just to get to the line to inspect it.

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And they were looking at the radar while doing it, as forecasts call for another period of storms from 3 a.m. until 9 a.m. Saturday. Even if it arrives as a smaller storm, that’ll limit the amount of work that can get done. More storms, Dominion officials point out, often mean more downed trees and at best, that makes it harder to reach the damaged lines. It’s also been harder to repair all the downed lines because this isn’t a case of one damaged power line affecting thousands of homes. It’s more spread out, with damage often affecting 50 to 70 homes in an area. 

Dominion plans for lights to come back

And this was something that Dominion officials say they planned for. Before the storm, Dominion crews got into position and looked to see if there were any power lines near trees particularly vulnerable to damage. But even with that, some things you can’t predict. 

“It can be hard to prevent outages since you never know where they will occur,” said Dominion media relations official Craig Carper. “Our goal is to restore power as quickly as possible.”

And there’s the potential for one more problem on the way. We’ve mentioned two rounds of storms. The National Weather Service is warning more could pop up in the area from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. tonight, as well as early Sunday morning. 

The biggest thing, Carper said, is that as soon as the lights go out, people need to call it in. That way Dominion knows what they’re dealing with. 

“Customers reporting outages is beneficial as they can give us data we don’t have,” said Carper. “They can look out their window and tell us a tree is down so we can get the proper crews out there when all we see is just an outage on our computer screen.”

Dominion Energy customers can call 866-366 4357 to report or check on an outage, use the Dominion Energy mobile app or visit the Dominion Energy website.

Editor’s note: Reporter Rachel Austin contributed to this report.