On December 4 and 5, 2002, a major ice storm blanketed 40 North Carolina counties with up to one inch of ice, causing an unprecedented power outage to approximately two million electric utility customers. Governor Easley subsequently formed the North Carolina Natural Disaster Preparedness Task Force and charged it with reviewing storm response and recovery efforts of state agencies and private companies. In conjunction with the work of the Task Force, the Utilities Commission and the Public Staff have undertaken an independent review to assess how well utility providers responded to the Ice Storm, from the pre-planning stage through restoration of service to customers.

As part of the independent review, the Utilities Commission held six public meetings in the most heavily affected areas of the state to allow public comment regarding the utility outages related to the Ice Storm. A summary of the comments presented at the Public Meetings is attached as the Appendix to this report. In addition, the utility providers were sent extensive data requests concerning their forecasting, response planning, damage assessment, mobilization, repair activity, and customer service before and during the Ice Storm, as well as their general operation and maintenance practices and overall emergency preparedness.

The primary purpose of this report is to present the results of that independent review. Because the Utilities Commission has limited jurisdiction over electric cooperatives and municipal utilities, this report concentrates on the efforts of the state’s three major public utility electric companies – Duke Power, Progress Energy Carolinas, and Dominion North Carolina Power. The focus of the report is on utility-related issues. The Commission and the Public Staff welcome the comments of other members of the Task Force who bring different perspectives to certain of these issues....

Part 2 of the Report...