Monday’s winter storm left tens of thousands of electric customers in the dark as heavy snow caused widespread power outages across Central Virginia.
And thousands may be out of power through the night or as long as Wednesday, even as temperatures are expected plummet to the teens tonight.
The Central Virginia Electric Cooperative, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative and Dominion Energy are some of the largest energy providers to the area.
Rappahannock Electric officials said in a news release that it expected outages to last beyond Monday as crews worked to restore power for the nearly 70,000 customers without power “due to hundreds of separate outage events.”
Nearly 97% Louisa County residents were without power by Monday afternoon, according to online tracker PowerOutage.us. Louisa County had the highest percentage of outages, but a majority of energy customers in Fluvanna, Greene, Nelson and Albemarle counties were out of power.
Nearly half of Charlottesville was out of power by 3:45 p.m. as were most CVEC customers, according to CVEC’s outage map.
“The heavy, wet snow coupled with the wind is causing trees to snap and hit power lines,” said Melissa Gay, communications and membership services manager for CVEC. “The downed trees are also blocking roadways all across the service territory. CVEC crews and our contract crews are working hard to clear paths in and then start work on restoration.”
Crews will work until 10 p.m. and pick back up at 7 a.m.
“We expect this to be a multiday outage, meaning that main lines will be restored before secondary lines and some services will be restored Wednesday or later,” Gay wrote.
CVEC and REC said they have requested mutual aid for neighboring cooperatives.
“We are prioritizing the safety of our crews, as always, and have found that to be very challenging in areas where trees are falling all around them as they are ascending poles,” Gay wrote. “As the night falls, it will make working conditions more perilous. It is our commitment to restore power as quickly and safely as possible, but with this storm that might take a longer than anyone anticipated.”
By Monday afternoon, 52,000 Dominion Energy customers in Charlottesville and Albemarle were without power.
Craig Carper, a spokesman with Dominion, said that crews were working to respond to the multiple outages, several of which were caused by downed power lines. Snow covered and icy roads were slowing down response times, he said.
“We’re looking at a multi-day restoration effort,” he said, adding that Dominion crews expected many people to have their power restored Monday with the rest by Tuesday.
Because the outages were caused by different individual instances rather than one significant issue, restoring the power is more complex, he said.
“We’re deploying all our resources,” he said. “But people should prepare for a night without power.”
Carper urged anyone using a generator to operate it outside.
If you see a downed power line, assume it’s “energized and dangerous,” Carper said, and stay at least 30 feet away from it. To report an issue, call (866) 366-4357.