Georgia customers without power Wednesday drops below half-million

About 480,000 Georgia homes and businesses remained without power Wednesday, two days after Tropical Storm Irma hit the state.

That total is down from about 1.5 million immediately after the storm.

Georgia Power announced Wednesday that it expects to restore power to 95 percent of customers by Sunday night. The utility said it has completed a “full-scale damage assessment” that allowed it prioritize work and estimate how long it will take to restore service.

Some 304,000 Georgia Power customers were in the dark late Wednesday afternoon, according to the Atlanta utility’s state-wide outage map. About 114,000 of those were in the metro Atlanta counties of Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, and Clayton.

About 176,000 customers of electric utility cooperatives around the state were still without power Wednesday, according to Georgia EMC, a trade group. Metro Atlanta accounted for almost 33,000 of those customers.

By Tuesday night, Georgia Power said, it had restored power to 590,000 customers, or 60 percent of those affected. By late Wednesday afternoon, that total had grown to roughly 690,000.

The number of Atlanta customers without power has continued to drop as the utilities re-routed power and brought in additional crews from as far away as Canada to repair damage.

Georgia Power said it had beefed up its response to the storm to 6,000 workers, from 3,400 before the storm hit.

But the pace of restorations has been slowing, apparently as crews tackle tougher jobs or smaller outages.

At a city council transportation committee meeting Wednesday, Atlanta public works commissioner William Johnson described the complicated process city and utility workers have to go through to tackle some of the outages.

He said the city initially had about 60 sites where city workers had to wait for Georgia Power to de-energize power lines damaged by downed trees. The city workers would then cut up the trees and remove debris so line crews could get to the damaged lines and fix them so power could be restored to the affected neighborhood.

“It’s slow but steady,” he said, telling the city council Atlanta still had about 45 locations where the city and Georgia Power have to coordinate their efforts.

“In some cases they had damage to some of their major transmission lines, which is a much bigger project,” he said.

Georgia Power said the huge number of outages presented “a significant challenge,” and that it may take several days to complete all the repairs.

The utility said it is giving highest priority to power outages affecting hospitals, nursing homes and schools, then tackling repairs that will restore power quickly to the largest number of customers.

—Staff writer Kelly Yamanouchi contributed to this report.

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