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How Duke Energy's 'self-healing' technology helps keep the power on during storms

tree branch covered in ice
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A Duke Energy spokeswoman says the company is as ready as can be for outages. Sally Thelen says earlier this week, extra resources were brought in from other areas to reconnect customers quickly when ice brings down wires.

Duke Energy has technology that's designed to keep the power on to as many customers as possible during ice storms.

Thelen says the "self-healing" technology automatically identifies breaks in the power grid. "When we've got capacity, it is able to help re-route power around it so that it might just isolate it to a couple of customers right in the immediate vicinity of where an outage is," she says. "Whereas in the old days, it might affect 150 people in a neighborhood, now we can greatly reduce the outage impact."

Thelen says the smart grid was first introduced locally in 2010, and has been installed in areas that have historically had high instances of outages.

Ice will build up on tree branches and when those break, they'll sometimes take power lines with them.

"We're able to re-route it and get it restored via the self-healing technology," Thelen says. "That happens fairly quickly and usually automatically. I don't think it would hurt at all if it's after a few minutes to let us know."

Thelen says there's a phone number you can call: 800-543-5599. Or you can text 57801. Or you can report an outage on Duke's website and mobile app.

She says preparation and prevention are ongoing efforts.

"You typically might hear folks that aren't super excited when we come to their neighborhoods to trim trees, and we do totally understand that," she says. "But it's this kind of weather that is critical to make sure that the right of way and the areas around our infrastructure is clear."