October 7, 2016 / 11:01 AM / 10 months ago

FACTBOX-Hurricane Matthew leaves nearly 1.2 mln in U.S. Southeast powerless

Oct 7 (Reuters) - Almost 1.2 million homes and businesses
were without power late Friday as Hurricane Matthew blasted
Florida, Georgia and North and South Carolina, electric
companies said.
    The outages are not as high as utilities had forecast and
not expected to reach those levels because the storm has already
passed most of the heavily populated southern part of Florida.
    On Thursday, NextEra Energy Inc's FPL power company,
the biggest in Florida, forecast Matthew could leave as many as
2.5 million homes and businesses without service, some for
extended periods of time. 
    FPL said Friday afternoon it has already restored power to
about 239,000 of the 923,000 affected by the storm, leaving
about 685,000 still to be restored.
    Matthew, the fiercest cyclone to affect the United States
since Superstorm Sandy hit the Northeast four years ago,
triggered mass evacuations along the coast from Florida through
Georgia and into South Carolina and North Carolina. 
    At 7 p.m. (2300 GMT) Matthew's eye or center was about 50
miles (80 km) east-northeast of Jacksonville Beach, Florida,
with strong winds and storm surge already spreading into
Georgia, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
    Matthew skirted Florida on Friday morning with winds of up
to 120 mph (195 kph) but had not made landfall by the evening.
The NHC downgraded the storm to a Category 2 on the five-step
Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity as its sustained
winds dropped to 110 mph. Category 5 is the strongest.
 
    Although weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours,
Matthew is expected to remain a hurricane until it begins to
move away from the southeastern United States on Sunday, the NHC
noted.
    With so many power outages, the state's utilities do not
have to import as much natural gas as usual to generate
electricity.
    The amount of gas flowing into the state on the Florida Gas
pipeline from Texas and Louisiana was expected to fall by about
800 million cubic feet per day on Friday from an average of 2.7
billion cubic feet per day over the past 30 days, according to
Thomson Reuters data. 
    
    The following lists outages at U.S. power companies neat
Matthew's forecast path. 
        
 Power Company              State/Pro   Out Now  
                              vince    
 NextEra - FPL                 FL           
                                         675,300
 Florida municipals            FL           
                                        209,000 
 Duke - Progress Florida       FL           
                                        198,700 
 Florida cooperatives          FL           
                                         63,900 
 Southern - Georgia Power      GA           
                                         58,400 
 Duke - Carolinas            NC, SC         
                                           1,900 
 Scana                         SC           
                                           4,400 
 Emera - Tampa Electric        FL           
                                            
                                          600 
 Dominion                    VA, NC         
                                            
                                          200  
 Southern - Gulf Power         FL           
                                            
                                         100    
 Jackson EMC                   GA           
                                           -   
 Cobb EMC                      GA           
                                           -   
 Santee Cooper                 SC           
                                           -   
                                            
                              Total      1,212,500
        

    
 (Reporting by Scott DiSavino in New York, Arpan Varghese and
Nithin Prasad in Bengaluru; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Andrew
Hay)

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