Duke Energy could reimburse customers for losses related to recent rolling blackouts

CHARLOTTE — When the power goes out, whatever is lost is usually on you to replace.

However, last week’s rolling power outages came as a surprise to customers.

Investigative reporter Madison Carter found out Duke Energy might be shelling out some cash for your unexpected expenses and lost food or medications.

Power companies are protected under the law from outages that are out of their control.

However, last week, Duke Energy turned the power off intentionally before the “Act of God” could occur.

That decision could be a major difference for many families who were left in the cold.

Duke Energy said it turned people’s power off to avoid a bigger catastrophe from last week’s cold blast.

But for families who rely on that power for medical equipment and survival, that explanation isn’t cutting it.

Duke Energy customer Stacy Staggs’ daughter has medical equipment that requires battery power to run.

She said there wasn’t any communication about the blackouts.

“So we didn’t know the power was coming back on,” Staggs said.

And because families didn’t know, they had to make expensive, split-second decisions because lives were depending on it.

“I feel like Duke should get all of those bills,” Staggs said.

Carter learned Duke Energy is going to look at customers’ bills and decide whether to pay any of them.

A spokesperson said customers can submit a liability claim for an evaluation online.

There are supposed to be different protocols for customers with medical needs.

Duke Energy has a Medically Essential Program, which is aimed at giving advanced notifications for service interruptions.

But now, there are questions about whether that list was considered at all during the blackouts.

Duke Energy’s statement about service restoration priorities doesn’t reference those customers.

“They referenced community centers like hospitals, first-responders’ sites, and they don’t include homes with medical equipment, which tells me we’re not on their radar,” Staggs said.

Carter asked for more information about the maintenance of the list and whether any customers on it were notified.

Duke Energy said it’s gathering that information.

“Duke turned off medical equipment in the home without warning, and they have to answer for that,” Staggs said.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission asked Duke Energy to appear before it next Tuesday for an explanation of the blackouts.

Commissioners will then decide whether further action or investigation is needed.

In the meantime, the Utilities Commission is encouraging you to call their consumer services with any complaints related to the rolling blackouts: 919-733-9277 or 866-380-9816 or via email.


VIDEO: Duke Energy resumes normal power operations

Madison Carter

Madison Carter, wsoctv.com

Madison is an investigative reporter and anchor for Channel 9.