Meet the crew that reroutes electricity when crashes knock out power

Posted at 9:46 AM, Jul 30, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-01 00:16:26-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. - More than 2,000 Dominion Virginia Power customers were  without power in the Lakeside-area of Henrico Wednesday morning as the result of a broken power pole, according to the Dominion website.

A spokeswoman for Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, which is near the crash scene, confirmed the garden also lost power as a result of the accident.

An accident was reported near the intersection of Hilliard Rd. and Lakeside Ave. about 9:10 a.m.

Over the past month or so, car crashes have left thousands in the dark four times -- two times in Henrico and also in Chesterfield and Powhatan.

While Dominion crews are used to dealing with cracked power poles due to an accident, it  can be a big headache for customers.

While you'll see crews in mass working to restore power, what you don't see is the crew working behind the scenes.

"As soon as the power goes off, if it's a large block of customers, we know it here," Dominion Virginia Power’s Dave Vanderbloemen said.

Using computers, the special crew searched the power grid for new ways to re-route electricity to get some customers out of the dark.

But a new plan is in the works to move 20 percent of overhead power poles underground. But it will not include lines you can easily see.

"The Under Grounding Program is meant to look at areas that we repeatedly go to during major storms where there are overhead lines that go to the rear of properties,” Vanderbloemen said. “They feed customers in areas that are hard to access."

While there will always be overhead power lines, Dominion estimates that when its undergrounding project is complete, they will be able to reduce the time it takes to restore power after a major storm by as much as 50 percent.

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