Winter storm knocks out power to thousands of Virginians, some outages could last days

Published: Jan. 3, 2022 at 2:22 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 3, 2022 at 10:25 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Monday’s winter storm knocked out power to thousands of Virginians, and officials say it could take days before everyone is restored.

A majority of those outages in central Virginia were Dominion Energy customers in Goochland, Henrico, and Richmond with Northern Virginia feeling a bigger impact with 150,000 without power.

As of 5:30 p.m. on Monday, over 6,000 Dominion Energy customers were without power in Goochland and close to 6,000 in Henrico. Just over 1,200 customers were without power in Richmond. By 9:30 p.m., Dominion Energy was still reporting nearly 175,000 outages.

Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC) customers on the other hand could be without power through the workweek. The company took a direct hit Monday, knocking out power to 90,000 of its customers.

The counties of Caroline, Hanover, Louisa, Orange and Spotsylvania were especially hard hit by storm-related outages, according to a release from the company.

Officials with REC say the multi-day restoration efforts will include fixing equipment at more than 600 locations.

“This is a historic outage event for REC,” said Casey Hollins, Managing Director – Communications and Public Relations. “We have mobilized all of our resources and we have mutual aid from other states and cooperatives in VA working to assist REC. We know this is a difficult outage for many of our member-owners and their families, and all employees are working together to get the power back on.”

The company is urging its customers to seek shelter or make alternative arrangements because the below-freezing temperatures will make restoration efforts even more difficult.

In Spotsylvania, a warming shelter was opened at 10 p.m. Monday due to all the outages. At the time, there were 31,000 people still without power and no estimate of when it will be back on.

Central Virginia Electric Cooperative is reporting 22,005 customers without power. Ninety percent of the company’s customers in Goochland and Louisa were still without power at 9:30 p.m.

Rayhan Daudani, with Dominion Energy, says road conditions and high winds made an impact for a slow start on Monday as crews were unable to use bucket trucks.

“Yeah this has been a really tough morning partly because a lot of the snow, that snow coming down is very wet,” Daudani said. “Also because we’ve seen some pretty gust winds and when the winds are gusty it makes it even harder for our crews to make it into the restoration.”

Dominion will be keeping it all hands on deck over the next few days with its lineman and contractors as they expect the number of outages to increase Monday night.

“That ice can accumulate on those lines and that can weigh the lines down. It can also weigh down tree limbs and both of which if those come down can lead to more power outages,” Daudani said.

Dominion Energy asking to watch out for bucket trucks that maybe working on sides of roads and for downed powerlines that could be covered up by snow.

“In the event that wires start to come down and you see it on the ground, stay away from it,” Daudani said. “You may think that it’s not a live line but it could be carrying a current and it could cause some potential danger.”

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