May 23, 2012
Last year at this time, the arrival of damaging thunderstorms signaled the start to a stormy summer and fall throughout PPL Electric Utilities’ service area in eastern and central Pennsylvania.
Hopefully, this summer’s weather won’t be nearly as severe. Still, the utility reminds its customers what they should do before and during an outage, as well as the actions the company has taken to improve its response to storm events since last year’s historic storm damage.
“With last year’s storms still fresh for us, we want our customers to be as prepared as possible for the storms ahead this year. We’ve seen that disruptive weather can develop at any time,” said Diane Coffin, manager-Emergency Preparedness for the utility.
Most importantly, PPL Electric Utilities asks its customers to report any outage by calling 1-800-DIAL-PPL (1-800-342-5775) or by visiting PPL Electric Utilities’ online Outage Center at www.pplelectric.com/outage. Since last year, the Outage Center has been upgraded to include a mobile format so outages can be reported on a smartphone. (Customers need to register their account in advance, however.)
“We rely on customers’ calls and messages to tell us about outages, and to help us get a sense of the scope of the problem so we can respond most effectively,” said Christine Ogozaly, director of Operations for the utility. “Please don’t assume your neighbor has reported the outage. It’s important that you let us know about it.”
There are also steps you can take to be ready before a storm hits:
Last year’s storms included three that ranked among the utility’s 10 worst ever in terms of impact on customers. The storm season began on the Thursday prior to Memorial Day, when a series of strong thunderstorms knocked out power to almost 182,500 customers. Restoration work continued through the holiday weekend, with the western parts of PPL Electric Utilities’ service area being the hardest hit.
Other significant storm events affecting PPL Electric Utilities’ service area last year included Hurricane Irene in late August and September; Tropical Storm Lee in September; and the October snowstorm.
Since the major storms of last year, PPL Electric Utilities has taken steps to improve its storm response processes and customer communications and to make outage reporting easier.
-- The utility has introduced My PPLAlerts, a service that will send updates to your home phone, mobile device or email account when an outage affects your account. PPL Electric Utilities does not charge for this service. Click here for more information.
You can also sign up to receive alerts when unusual usage is reported on your account, when you have exceeded a certain amount on your monthly bill, or when PPL Electric Utilities’ Price to Compare changes.
-- The utility rolled out a new mobile website that makes it easier for customers to use their smartphone or other mobile device to access and use key features of the utility’s online Outage Center — reporting a power outage, checking the status of that outage or viewing outage information for the entire service area.
When customers using a mobile device access the Outage Center through www.pplelectric.com, a saved bookmark for the Outage Center or a link from a search engine, they will automatically be redirected to the new, mobile friendly site with no download required. They also can bookmark the mobile site Web address: m.pplelectric.com.
-- The company reviewed and revised its storm response procedures to improve the estimated restoration times it issues to customers. PPL Electric Utilities recognizes that customers count on accurate restoration estimates to make plans during extended storm outages.
-- The company has increased the number of phone lines serving its customer contact center by 20 percent, leased capacity with an outside service that can assist with call handling at times of peak volume and taken other steps to improve customers’ phone access during major storms. Click here for more information.
Finally, the company plans to make $664 million in capital improvements this year to its transmission and distribution system throughout its 10,000-square-mile service area. These improvements will strengthen reliability, replace aging equipment and improve service to customers in all weather conditions.
PPL Electric Utilities, a subsidiary of PPL Corporation (NYSE: PPL), provides electric delivery services to about 1.4 million customers in Pennsylvania and has consistently ranked among the best companies for customer service in the United States. More information is available at www.pplelectric.com.