NEW YORK - Hurricane Irene knocked out power to nearly 250,000 customers in North Carolina and Virginia Saturday and a nuclear power station in the storm's path reduced power but remained undamaged.
Operations at the two units of the Brunswick nuclear power station in Southport, North Carolina, were ramped down to 65 percent of the total 1,875-megawatts of power to make sure they could still run if the storm interrupted the electric grid operations, said a spokesman for Progress Energy.
Progress reported 200,000 customers without power in North Carolina, while Dominion Resources said 47,000 customers in northern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia were down.
Oil refineries in the U.S. Northeast -- home to 1.2 million barrels per day of capacity -- prepared their plants throughout the week and some scaled back operations. Pipeline operators warned of potential delays for fuel distribution ahead.
ConocoPhillips was cutting rates at its 185,000 barrel per day (bpd) Trainer, Pennsylvania, refinery, sources said on Saturday. On Friday, sources said rates had been cut by 25 percent at Sunoco's Marcus Hook refinery.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano Friday warned of extensive power outages from Hurricane Irene.
The storm howled ashore in North Carolina on Saturday, weakening to a Category 1 hurricane and was expected to hit the mid-Atlantic states on Saturday night and New England on Sunday.
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