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Christmas Eve 'rolling blackouts' frustrate many, others find peace in the darkness

Cold temperatures caused a spike in energy demand for the Piedmont, leading Duke Energy to conduct "rolling blackouts" to protect the energy grid.

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — All is calm and all is bright, once again, for many in the Triad.

Friday night’s bitterly cold temperatures spiked demand for electricity.

That increased demand led Duke Energy to pull the plug on many peoples Christmas plans.

"This is one of the tools that we have, it’s one that we don’t want to use unless we have to," said Duke Energy spokesperson Jeff Brooks.

Brooks says the rolling blackouts are intended to protect the energy grid for as many customers as possible.

"It does help to protect more customers from being effected and protect all the customers that have the temporary outage from seeing a longer outage that nobody wants to experience on Christmas Eve," said Brooks.

The timing was not ideal, just 24 hours after gusty winds caused thousands of outages across the Piedmont.  

"There were significant gains made yesterday crews worked into the night, some worked overnight. All hoping to get everybody up as soon as possible and that would be the end of things and this certainly added a new complication to that," said Brooks. 

Brooks says Friday night’s temperatures fell below their expectations, resulting in an increased demand for electricity.

Bobby Lamb lives in Greensboro and has been without power since Friday morning.

"We went and stayed with friends last night because they were calling for it to be so cold. We came back this morning and the house was colder than it was outside. So, we came outside and stood in the sun to stay warm," said Lamb.

Others who found themselves in the dark shared their frustrations on our News 2 Facebook page.

Christine Swink’s comment reads in part, “My mom’s power has also been out since 9:00 this morning…This is unacceptable for Duke Energy to do this. I am past angry!"

“My turkey is in the oven and probably ruined!!!" Alison Stevens commented. “Had I known about the 'rolling black out' I’d have waited.”

"About 3 minutes before the service began at 9:30, out power just went out. Black, completely," said Johnathan Robbins, pastor for The Summit Church in Kernersville.

Some made the best of the rolling blackouts by betting the light shine through the darkness.

“We kind of pulled it off with a kind of unplugged, shortened Christmas service," said Robbins"

Robbins says their Christmas service went on.

Acoustic music echoed through the darkness, bringing an unexpected peace, lit by candlelight.

"Everything just simplified itself by force and ended up creating a peaceful moment for people to take a few minutes to reflect on how God brings peace into our lives," said Robbins. 

Duke Energy sent a text message update to customers on Saturday evening which read, "The extremely low temperatures and high energy demand continue to place an unusual strain on the energy grid. Please consider powering down all nonessential electric devices and delaying unnecessary energy use for the next 24-48 hours to help avoid rotating outages."

According to Duke Energy, power has been restored for all the customers impacted by the rolling blackouts.

Brooks says the few remaining outages are connected to Friday’s winds.

Duke Energy expects most of those customers to be back online by midnight on Christmas Eve.

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