Odd behavior from our power utility

Our power goes out. We report it. Two hours later, APCO responds with an email claiming our power "is not out." Yet, no power is coming into our house and the power meter is dark. Stayed that way for six more hours.
(Stock Photo)

At one point during the rash of power outages that swept through the area Wednesday afternoon and evening, some of us started to wonder if the Appalachian Power (APCO) grid had come down with the Coronavirus.

Power at our house went down shortly after 5 pm. Fortunately, we have a Generac full-house generator that kicks in automatically, so we didn’t worry much. An email from APCO said the outage was part of a number of problems associated with the thunderstorms in the area.

Then an odd email at 7:53 pm read: “Appalachian Power previously notified you of an outage in your area. Our investigation of that outage shows your address is not out of power.”

Odd, because our generator continued to run and our investigation at our power meter showed no power coming into the house from APCO. The utility’s website power outage map also showed 643 customers still powerless in a wide area around our location.

The email also said “if you are at this location and your power is out, report your outage.” We did.

Seven hours later, the generator continued to supply the necessary power to keep our lights on and, more importantly, our fridge and freezer powered. Still no power coming into the house from the APCO line but the utility’s power outage map said no outages at our address.

So, we tried to enter a new power outage report online but it refused to accept the report when we clicked “submit.” Instead, a notice kept popping up saying what we wroted in the “message” box contained “invalid characters.”

Odd, again, because the message was straightforward with no typos and did not contain any obscene words (although I was thinking a few at the time). Deleted the entire message and wrote a new one. Same refusal when we tried to resubmit.

Gave up trying to report online and called. Took a while with the convoluted voice mail system but finally got a recording back that said the notice of still more power was accepted.

At 12:42, another email:

A power outage has been reported in your area. This may be impacting (our location).

Important information from Appalachian Power:

  • We are working to assess the outage and identify the customers affected.
  • An estimate of restoration is not available at this time.
  • APCO will send you an updated message as our crews provide additional or new information on this outage, such as the cause or when it might be restored.

At 1:16 a.m.,the power came on from APCO and our generator shut down.

The “updated message” arrived at 7:41 a.m. Thursday. It said the power was caused by “tree contact.” No explanation, however, on why they claimed the power was “not out” 12 hours earlier.

We appreciated the hard work, under demanding conditions, by the crews who were out in that stormy mess Wednesday night. We thank and congratulate them.

Our generator ran for a little over eight hours nonstop. That’s why we have one. It did its job. So did the hard-working crews who restored power throughout the area Wednesday night.

Not sure we can say the same for the big shots in the main offices who make the big bucks and who are now seeking another rate increase in the middle of the COVID-19 Coronavirus debacle.

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