For all the problems in Northern Virginia, it was Montgomery County that seemed to be the epicenter of disruption, with hundreds of traffic signals still out, and about 70 road closures, almost all in residential neighborhoods. Fire rescue officials said they had logged 2,000 calls for assistance.
Leggett urged people to work at home on Monday or use car pools and public transportation to get to work.
Graham, the Pepco president, said that the storm had caused “extraordinary damage” to Pepco’s system.
“I can only think of one or two occasions when the damage has been greater,” Graham said, naming Hurricane Isabel in September 2003 and a January 1999 ice storm. “This isn’t public relations. This is restoring service customer by customer, circuit by circuit.”
Mike Maxwell, Pepco’s vice president of asset management, said recent efforts to improve reliability have had an impact on preventing customer outages, but he declined to say how much. Maxwell said efforts thus far have been aimed at reducing the number and duration of “blue sky” outages, not related to severe weather.
“Comparatively speaking, you can’t say this was a Pepco issue,” Graham said. “It’s a catastrophic weather event that millions of individuals are experiencing right now.”
Rodney Blevins, Dominion’s vice president of electric distribution operations, said the weekend’s storm caused the third-worst outage in company history. It is the only event in its five largest mass outages, he said, not caused by a hurricane.
Blevins said Dominion has secured 1,000 additional lineworkers, coming from 13 states and Quebec. He estimated that 80 to 85 percent of Dominion customers now in the dark will have power restored by Tuesday night, with 90 to 95 percent getting it by Thursday night. But restoration would not be complete by the weekend. “A lot of hard work happens in that last 5 to 10 percent,” he said.
Both Blevins and a spokesman for Appalachian Power, H. Joseph Jones, said Virginia’s declaration of emergency has helped secure outside crews to help restore power.
“[It] frankly enables us to move external crews in and out of our jurisdiction much more easily,” Jones said. “That’s a big help to us.”
“It’s been helpful for us in terms of competing for and procuring resources, particularly those we were able to get from Quebec,” Blevins added.
BG&E does not expect to be able to restore power until “into the weekend” and is not predicting how many customers may be brought online over the next week, said spokesman Rob Gould.
Changing weather, high demand due to heat and the effects of heat and workload on crews all affect the pace of restoration, Gould said. BG&E has about 750 out-of-state utility workers committed to work on its lines of the 1,000 it estimated would be needed, Gould said.