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Originally published: 2013-11-26 10:02:27
Last modified: 2013-11-26 10:51:53

Power restored to 5,000+ Tuesday

by Kellen Short

Crews restored power early Tuesday after icy weather and high winds affected a transmission line, darkening homes in about 20 percent of Watauga County.


The outage occurred around 3:20 a.m., affecting 5,235 homes and businesses in western Watauga County, according to Blue Ridge Electric.


Another roughly 500 customers of New River Light & Power were affected in the Boone area starting around 3:45 a.m. due to the same transmission line issues, said line crew supervisor Frank Butler.


Blue Ridge Electric's high-voltage transmission lines also serve New River Light & Power, so both were affected by the weather.


Homes and businesses along N.C. 105 and Homespun Hills Road were among those affected in New River's district, as well as the Watauga County Courthouse, Butler said. The Watauga County Sheriff's Office also lost power, and Butler said that outage took priority, although the office has emergency generators.


The University Highlands apartments were among those affected the longest -- about three and a half hours, he said.


Crews worked throughout the early morning hours and had all but 20 members back online by 7 a.m., with full power restoration around 7:40 a.m., according to Renee Whitener, public relations director for Blue Ridge Electric.


Some customers also experienced "brownouts," or low or varying power levels. Whitener said these situations were likely due to a heavy load on the system as power was restored.


Butler encouraged people experiencing lengthy power outages to turn off lights and unneeded items when the power is restored, as the sudden load can strain the system.


"When we turn our breaker back on, everything goes on, so it really pushes everything to the max," he said.


With more winter weather on its way, Blue Ridge Electric and New River Light and Power remain on high alert.


Blue Ridge Electric members should report outages to the PowerLine at 1-800-448-2383. An online outage map is available at blueridgeemc.com.


New River Light & Power customers can report outages at (828) 264-8621.