NOTL Hydro is currently advertising its new outage notification capability. There is an insert with our latest bill, advertisements in the local newspapers and social media posts. We hope this is something our customers are interested in.
Nobody likes to be without power and we are continually investing in our system to keep the number and duration of outages low. However, the reality of electricity is that service can be interrupted. The wind can create a contact between trees and power lines, animals can cause a short by being in the wrong place, equipment can fail or human activity can cause an outage.
When the power goes out, two things start happening very quickly. First, customers start calling us to let us know they are without power. We appreciate this as it provides valuable information; especially if the customer is able to report hearing a loud noise or seeing an accident. Please keep calling. Second, we get an automatic notification that identifies some of the customer addresses that are no longer getting power. The smart meters measuring your power usage provides this information.
Our plan is to use this smart meter information to send a text or e-mail to those customers that would like it informing them that their power is out. This may sound like providing information that is obvious; but customers can be out, or away or this could be a second home. Also, if you get this text or e-mail then you have assurance that we are aware of the outage and are working on it.
If this sounds like a service you would like then please apply for it by filling in the form or calling our office. We will not text or e-mail anyone on outages without their permission so you need to sign up. There is no charge for this service.
At this point, the text or e-mail will only let you know that your address is out of power. There will not be an estimate of when power will be restored or any other information.
To understand why let’s go back to our outage response. We have calls from customers and our automatic alert. We know there is an outage and some of the customers affected. Based on this information we may be able to identify the specific location of the outage. For instance, if all the customers are on one transformer, we can be confident that is the issue. On more widespread outages we still have to find the specific location of the outage; often by patrolling the lines. We then need to identify the cause of the outage and the repair needed. If it is just a blown fuse the repair can be quite quick. More serious issues such as a downed pole or a blown transformer require lengthier repairs.
Either way, for now, our line staff will remain focused on the repairs and not be sending out additional communications. This is safer and allows the restoration of power to proceed as quickly as possible. If this new service is successful, we will look to improve the amount of the communication in the future.