Representatives of Duke Energy and Piedmont Electric say they expect power to be restored by late Wednesday night for all customers affected by last week’s freezing rain.

Spokesperson Catherine Butler of Duke Energy says the estimated time for full restoration is Wednesday, March 12 at 11:30 p.m. She says the reason it takes so long to get everybody back on the grid is that freezing rain causes unique problems for utility workers.

“We were seeing almost a half an inch of ice the day after the storm hit, that was frozen onto the power lines” says Butler. “And so that causes power lines to sag and potentially, even fall and break.

“It also cause tree limbs to be very heavy. And when tree limbs are heavy, and they fall into the power lines, that can cause pretty extensive damage.”

Butler says the areas hit the hardest by power outages were Alamance, Davidson, Forsyth, Guilford, Orange, Randolph and Rowan Counties.

She says that Duke Energy has enlisted help from workers in Florida and the Midwest, as well as from seven neighboring utilities, to help get service back up in affected areas.

Piedmont Electric Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Richard Mabbott says that Piedmont has passed the 90 percent mark for restoring service.

“I think we’re going to get a lot of those folks back on today,” Mabbott told WCHL Monday. “There may be a few out there that are going to take a little longer because there’s quite a bit more damage – especially homes that are way back in the woods.”

Mabbott says that Piedmont has about 300 workers dispatched all over the service area, trying to get power restored.

He adds that work has been going on “`round-the-clock” since Friday.

Meanwhile, Catherine Butler of Duke Energy has some solid advice for people that are out-and-about, now that it’s nice outside again.

“We want to remind folks that there are still some downed power lines, and there might be some dangerous conditions,” says Butler. “So they should be very aware of that, and stay away from any fallen power lines that might be either down on the ground or even sagging. They need to consider that all lines could be energized.”