September 1, 2006

Ernesto leaves 263,000 powerless

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Ernesto, downgraded to a tropical
depression as it crossed into Virginia, knocked out power
service to about 263,000 customers in Virginia and the
Carolinas on Friday.

In Virginia, the storm hit the Dominion Virginia Power
service territory in the Tidewater area the hardest, knocking
out 190,000 customers.

That number will likely grow as the storm remains over
Dominion territory for much of the rest of the day.

The remnants of Ernesto will be in the Richmond area by 8
p.m. EDT Friday and in the D.C. area by 8 a.m. Saturday.

In a release Friday, the utility, a subsidiary of Richmond,
Virginia-based Dominion Resources Inc., said it appears the
storm knocked tree limbs onto the power lines, causing most of
the outages.

The power company, which serves more than 2.3 million
customers in Virginia and North Carolina, said Ernesto would
likely be an "east of Interstate 95" storm and it started to
restage some of crews and contractors from the western part of
its service area to the east to aid in restoration.

Restoration will begin in full force once the strong winds
and hard rain moves out of the area to protect employee safety,
the utility said.

Dominion, like other utilities, starts restoring service to
emergency facilities, critical infrastructure and locations
that can return the largest numbers of customers first.

Also in the region, Progress Energy Inc. said at 10 a.m. it
was restoring power to about 43,000 customers still without
service in North Carolina. At its peak, Ernesto knocked out
service to about 63,000 Progress customers in North Carolina.

Duke Energy Corp. meanwhile said at about 11 a.m. it was
working to restore power to the last 4,000 customers in North
and South Carolina, down from about 10,000 left without service
earlier in the day.