There are just about two weeks until hurricane season, and right now there are spring storms to contend with too.
This time of year can bring downed trees and power outages, so crews from Duke Energy are making preparations now.
Across the Piedmont, the power company is working on upgrading the power grid. They are installing technology that will help keep the power on during a storm and get it restored more quickly if the power does go out. Some of the improvements include self-healing technology, where the power can be rerouted through other sections of the power grid to an area with an outage.
The installation of smart meters can also help crews quickly find where exactly outages are coming from to get to them faster.
There is also more visible work being done now, including tree trimming and replacing power poles to help prevent some downed lines.
"As we come into hurricane season and major storm season, we’re trying to make improvements, maintain trees and vegetation, to ensure that we can keep outages as low as possible. But when outages do occur we can get customers back online faster than ever,” Jeff Brooks, a spokesperson for Duke Energy, said.
Another big undertaking that's happening across the state and in the Piedmont is putting some power lines underground. Duke Energy is using specific data to target areas that are consistently seeing power outages, sometimes around nine or 10 times a year. In some of those areas, the power lines are in the back yards, or heavily wooded areas.
Crews are working on moving them to easements underground in the front yards. That takes getting an easement from the homeowner, which is sometimes in line with a city easement. The crews try to have a minimal impact to get the lines underground, in hopes of having to continuously restore power to these neighborhoods, like homes off Langdale Drive in High Point. A project there started in November, and installation is underway for a section of the community. In order to get a project like this done, it takes several months of working with neighbors, and the work itself takes a few days. Everyone needs to agree since the power lines are moved into a section of people's property.
The work is supposed to help those neighbors, but also help people across the Piedmont during big storms with power outages.
“These are customers that don’t experience the same reliability that our most of our customers see. They see many more outages than a typical customer sees. Every time a storm comes through we’re having to send crews to a neighborhood like this. And that’s a crew that can’t be helping other customers, And it’s an expensive thing overtime,” Brooks said.
Brooks says there will be underground power line projects in the neighborhoods the company identifies over the next several years.