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Unexpected power outage frustrates Petersburg businesses

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PETERSBUG, Va. (WTVR) -- Dominion Virginia Power is apologizing for shutting off the electricity to Petersburg’s city hall and several businesses, while upgrading power lines in the middle of the day on Wednesday.

The outage affected 73 customers, including several downtown businesses.

Charlie Rawlings, the owner of Dixie restaurant, says Dominion did not provide notice to any of its customers about the scheduled circuit conversion. Rawlings also says the timing of the outage made matters worse.

The power was shut off at 11 a.m., just before the lunch hour, and remained out until close to 1 p.m.

“We had to shut it down and send everyone home,” Rawlings says.

Several tourists are visiting Petersburg for the city’s historic garden week and the upcoming “Lincoln” weekend. The costume designer for the epic movie, directed by Steven Spielberg, will be in town to showcase some of the film’s famous wardrobe pieces.

The outage affected restaurants, stores, traffic signals, private residences and even city hall.

Restaurant owner Frank Takacs says the outage cost him nearly 2-thousand dollars and possibly some loyal patrons.

Longstreets restaurant is also a popular dining destination in the city’s downtown district.

“The 100 to 200 people who drove here... they wasted their time and they probably didn’t have lunch today,” Takacs says.

Wednesday afternoon, Dominion released a statement apologizing for the miscommunication.

“Dominion Virginia Power sincerely regrets having caused this inconvenience for our customers and for the citizens of Petersburg. We did not provide sufficient advance notification before undertaking work that will improve electric service in the area.”

Dominion says a two-week notice is normally issued to customers before scheduled repairs. The company also says repairs are made during times that are least likely to cause inconvenience to customers.

While business owners say they appreciate Dominion’s apology, Frank Takacs says another gesture would be more appreciated.

“It would be great if we could deduct what we lost from our electric bill,” says Takacs.