Don’t take it personally. Computer decided who lost power on Christmas Eve

Those who lost power on Christmas weekend – hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across the state – have been asking for days how Duke Energy decided which customers to take offline.

The utility says, in short, don’t take it personally.

Duke spokesman Bill Norton says no specific clusters of customers were targeted.

“It’s a computerized system. It’s automated,” he said. “The system detects where there’s a challenge and brings down power there. So, it’s really automated. We can’t say, ‘Yeah keep that neighborhood online, but not that one.’ It doesn’t work that way. It’s an automated process.”

Although the widespread extreme cold was forecast well in advance, Duke acknowledges it was caught off guard. Some generators failed, and power was unavailable from nearby states with similar weather.

In order to preserve the power grid, the utility company had to reduce demand with rolling blackouts.

WRAL Investigates asked Duke for a map that shows which customers lost power and for how long. Similar questions are expected at a meeting scheduled for Tuesday of the state utilities commission.

The commission is investigating generator outages at plants in Roxboro and Marshall, and they’re asking about reported generator failures at the Dan River and Mayo plants.