I have news to report regarding Pepco’s efforts to communicate with customers when the lights go out. I recently had the opportunity to listen to the Pepco executives at the Maryland Public Service Commission’s Hearing on the Derecho 2012 storm. I will share with you some of the highlights, but if you’d like to read all the details, you can find the report at www.psc.state.md.us (Case Number 9298).
Pepco officials heard loud and clear how frustrated customers were during the last big storm when people were without power for extended periods of time. In response, Pepco seems to be making progress on improving its communications with customers when the lights go out. The Company, for example, is working on its policies around providing customers with a more precise “Estimated Time of Restoration.” Here’s the rub – a global ETR is usually when the vast majority of customers are restored. However, many customers will be restored before the global ETR date. It’s not especially helpful to hear that the last customer will be restored in five, six or seven days – when for you it could be in one day. Pepco officials said they now plan to tell customers at the beginning of the work day if the power will be back on that day. In my opinion, that is much more helpful information that will at least let customers know what to expect.
Pepco is also making efforts toward communicating more effectively internally so it can deliver all the necessary repair materials needed to complete a job more effectively. This means that once a crew arrives on the scene, it will be able to tackle any problem, whether it’s downed wires, trees or poles.
On the issue of restoring power to critical care facilities, Pepco officials intend to work with local emergency management agencies to better identify critical care facilities so they can respond more efficiently. And they’ve agreed to provide these EMAs with customer outage information to better ensure public safety.
The Vice President of Pepco’s Call Center has directed that the Call Center scripts be revised and his team investigate technology to allow customers to decide when they get call backs – almost like a hotel wake-up call. I like the idea of customers having more control!
Another improvement is that a Storm Center is being created on the Pepco website for use when major storms strike. Customers can check the Storm Center for information about the storm, its impact on the Pepco electrical system, and expectations regarding power restoration. It would be a one-stop shop for many customers who can access the internet on their battery-powered smart devices during an outage.
While there is much more that Pepco can do to ensure customers have the information they need to plan their lives when they are without power, I believe change and progress are in the air.
As Customer Advocate, my job is to communicate your concerns and ideas to the Company. If you would like your voice to be heard, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.