Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Dear Commonwealth Edison, your power-outage reporting system sucks.
Storms with heavy rain and damaging winds rolled though again early yesterday evening, knocking out my power, but sparing most of my neighbors. Our little neighborhood has several electrical feeds and I’ll be darned if I will ever understand the engineering logic they used during design and construction. When outages are isolated, there is always a chance that the repair crews may not get the word from someone else, so I decided to make a phone call. Actually, I had to make SEVERAL phone calls because our utility company’s touch-tone reporting system FAILED. With a current bill in my hand, so I had ready access to my account number AND which of my telephone numbers they have on file for use in indentifying my address, their system kept reporting that my location could not identified. I tried again…, again…, and again. Finally, I got through to a real person and reported it the old-fashioned way… with my booming voice. Five hours later, they restored power.
The sump pumps kept our basement dry thanks again to my noisy little generator, which performed in the face of waves of driving rain. A prudent high priority project would be for me to replace both aging sump pumps BEFORE they fail, along with installing a sizable battery backup system. If Edison had not restored power when they did, I would have had no choice but to run the generator all night long, keeping many of my neighbors awake. The fridge and freezer will keep food cold and safe for hours without power, but after a soaking rain, it is essential that the sump pumps keep running. Running a generator, especially at night, requires that you guard it against theft. I was contemplating spending all night in my GMC van parked next to the generator when Edison finally restored power. Having enough AGM batteries and inverters to power essentials for six hours would be a good contingency, but at the moment I don’t have the money needed to put it all together.