Turn Off Utilities After a Disaster to Avoid Charges

Wednesday September 14, 2011
Posted at 08:15

Hurricane Irene caused about $1.5 billion in destruction, destroying or damaging over 400 homes in Connecticut and 700 homes in Vermont. Numbers were even more overwhelming in North Carolina where 1,100 homes were destroyed or damaged, according to Governor Beverly Perdue, and in many other states along the eastern seaboard.

This week’s Texas wildfires continue to set records, razing hundreds of homes and tens of thousands of acres. More than 5,000 people have evacuated to avoid the flames and the 16-mile-wide wildfire in Bastrop County in Central Texas is the worst wildfire in Texas history. The wildfire will likely destroy additional homes as the number of homes destroyed across the state tops 1,000.

What to Do After a Disaster

More deaths typically occur after a hurricane than during one, so be extremely careful when returning home after any natural disaster and only do so after authorities have deemed your area safe. Have a qualified electrician or technician inspect the wiring in your home, reconnect utilities and relight pilot lights if you do not know how to safely do so.

In the case of a total loss of your home, or in the case of an extended stay away from your home due to severe damage, be sure to alert your utility company and your energy service company or ESCO (also known as a retail electric provider or REP). Even if local officials, police officers and firefighters may know that your home was destroyed, your utility company may continue to bill your account for “estimated usage,” or usage estimated in accordance with your typical usage patterns, whether or not you’re living in your home.

“A lot of customers assume that the utility company knows that the electric account will just close since the home was destroyed. That is not the case – they need to call in,” says Rachel Rodriguez, customer service manager for Spark Energy. Rodriguez says that a retail electric company can submit requests on behalf of customers to the utility to electronically notify them to stop service to the residence in case the customer is unable to reach the utility company directly.

Once everything is shut off, an inspector from the county or city will need to inspect the premises to be sure it’s safe to begin rebuilding. At that time, you’ll need to call your utility to set up a temporary meter for your contractor’s needs. Check with your county or city government on what types of inspections are required to begin rebuilding and to move back in. Once the home is inspected and passed, you’ll need to contact the utility to set up permanent service and you’ll be able to select an ESCO or REP.

Special Disaster Assistance

If you’re a Spark Energy customer, we’ll be happy to help accommodate your needs after a natural disaster. We understand that it can be a stressful time and will do everything we can to help make your transition as smooth as possible. If you’ve been displaced because of a natural disaster, please contact our customer service department and we can take your situation into account and help you accordingly, whether you need to relocate temporarily or permanently.

Additional Resources

We’ve compiled a list of utilities in the Houston area and Central Texas in case you need to contact your utility company. Please note that Spark Energy is unable to assist non-Spark Energy customers with move-outs or customers not within our service area. We are also unable to assist customers with permitting, inspection, or rebuilding – please contact your local government or insurance company for that information. The information below is provided for your convenience.

Spark Energy Customer Service:

East Coast Utility Contact Info for Hurricane Irene Areas: http://bit.ly/IreneOutage

Houston-Area Utilities:

- CenterPoint Energy:

- Texas-New Mexico Power-TNMP:

- American Electric Power-AEP Texas:

- Entergy Texas (Not in Spark Energy Service Area):

  • Area: Bryan/College Station, Navasota, Hempstead, Magnolia, The Woodlands, Conroe, Liberty, Cleveland, Huntsville, Beaumont, Port Arthur and east to the Louisiana border
  • Customer Service and Emergencies: 800.ENTERGY (800.368.3749)
  • Report Outage: 1.800.9OUTAGE (800.968.8243)
  • Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/EntergyTEX
  • Website: http://www.entergy-texas.com/

- San Bernard Electric Cooperative-SBEC (Not in Spark Energy Service Area):

Houston-Area Permitting and Construction Information:

- Harris County Public Infrastructure Department:

- Montgomery County Environmental Health & Permitting:

- Grimes County Environmental Permits:

- Waller County Permitting and Construction:

Central Texas Utilities (Not in Spark Energy Service Area):

- Austin Energy:

- Bastrop Power & Light:

Central Texas Permitting and Construction:

- City of Austin Building Permits:

- Bastrop County Permits:

Sources

Governor, Feds Vow to Rebuild Irene-Damaged Conn.,” – Houston Chronicle, September 5, 2011.

Vt. Gov Seeks Vacation Homes for Flood Victims,” – Associated Press, September 6, 2011.

Schumer Tours Irene Damage, Promises Fight for FEMA Aid,” www.lohud.com, September 5, 2011.

Hurricane Irene Relief Fund Estimated at $1.5bn,” – Guardian, September 6, 2011.

Irene Destroyed More Than 1,100 Homes, N.C. Governor Says,” Associated Press, August 30, 2011.

Disastrous Texas Wildfire Now Worst in State's History,” Time, September 6, 2011.

How Long Will the Power Be Out After Hurricane Irene?

Wednesday August 31, 2011
Posted at 11:05

Ahead of the storm, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano noted that, "we do anticipate a significant amount of power outages with this particular storm." A FEMA Administrator agreed, saying that strong winds and flash flooding were expected to impact those inland as well as along the coast.

With some estimates that over 4 million homes and businesses were without power in the wake of Hurricane Irene across the Eastern Seaboard, we can see that predictions of mass power outages across the region came true for many.

Hurricane Irene Heavily Impacted the Electric Grid

A US Department of Energy report released Monday morning collected data from utilities’ outage information and helped give us an overall view of the impact of Hurricane Irene:

  1. Rhode Island – 64% of customers out
  2. Connecticut – 44% of customers out
  3. Maryland – 22% of customers out
  4. New Jersey – 20% of customers out
  5. New Hampshire – 20% of customers out
  6. Massachusetts – 19% of customers out
  7. Virginia – 19% of customers out
  8. New York – 12% of customers out

Please continue to report outages – utility systems can locate generalized outages, but it can be difficult to pinpoint specific outage locations. To find contact information for your utility, see our list here.

When Will My Power Be Back On? How Many People are Still Out?

Philadelphia: 225,000 were without power in Eastern Pennsylvania on Monday, according to PECO. Bucks County reports 81,000 outages; Delaware County 64,000; Chester County 57,000; Montgomery County 14,000; and Philadelphia County 9,000 outages. PECO says they’ve already restored power to 300,000 customers and that 90% of the remaining outages should be repaired by Today. The remainder can expect their power to be back on before the weekend. SEPTA reports having three train routes out: Cynwyd, Trenton, and Paoli/Malvern. The Norristown line is reported to have begun running Monday afternoon. UPDATE: PECO now reports 47,000 out of power on Wednesday morning throughout the region.

New York City: More than 106,000 of ConEdison’s 3.2 million customers remained without power as of Monday afternoon. ConEdison intentionally cut electricity to some of its service area prior to the storm due to expected saltwater inundation of electrical equipment. ConEdison estimates that most customers in New York City will have power returned by Tuesday and most Westchester County residents should be restored by Thursday. ConEdison is supplying dry ice in several locations to help keep food refrigerated. MTA trains and busses were almost back up to normal by early Monday morning, including the Staten Island Train starting back up Sunday night. UPDATE: 32,000 outages are reported Tuesday evening. ConEdison says 83% of customers have been restored.

Long Island: The Long Island Power Authority said 400,000 customers were without power on Monday. 90% of these homes and businesses can expect to have power by Friday, with the remainder restored by the weekend or early next week, according to a LIPA representative. UPDATE: 190,000 are still out of power on Long Island in Nassau and Suffolk counties, about 16% of all customers. "Irene left behind a level of damage that we have not seen on Long Island in almost 30 years," the public utility said.

New Jersey: 715,000 utility customers were reportedly without power Monday morning across the state. 60,000 of those being within the PSE&G service territory. Crews with PSE&G are prioritizing downed lines and other emergencies. PSE&G and Jersey Central Power & Light said that rivers must recede before service can be restored. "That takes days," PSE&G spokeswoman Karen Johnson said. "The flooding is kind of overwhelming." UPDATE: PSE&G reports 74,000 customers out, about 4% of its 2.1 million customers. Jersey Central Power & Light still shows 187,000 outages – about 20% of their 1.1 million customers. "Currently there are 200 poles and almost 40 miles of wire that need to be replaced before we complete our restoration," said JCP&L spokesman Ron Morano.

Connecticut: 594,000 CL&P customers and 107,000 UI customers were out of power at noon on Monday. Connecticut Light & Power had restored 163,000 customers and a spokesman said that crews had responded to hospitals and police/emergency facilities first. The 770,000 outages at the height of the storm set a new record, breaking the previous record of 477,000 outages after Hurricane Gloria in 1985. Governor Malloy and CL&P officials said that it could be a week before customers get their power back on. "This is just unprecedented," the utility's spokesman, David Radanovich, said. "The largest storm we've ever faced." UPDATE: 370,000 utility customers still remain out of power in Connecticut – 308,000 of which are CL&P customers. 62,000 United Illuminating customers are out as of Wednesday.

Baltimore: Approximately 139,000 customers within the Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) territory were out of power as of Monday. About 680,000 lost power at some point during Irene, with 466,000 being the highest number of simultaneous outages. BGE has restored power to 327,000 customers in less than 48 hours and expects to restore the majority of the remainder of outages by late Friday. Isolated outages may remain until Saturday. "Just lots of trees down," said Linda Foy with Baltimore Gas & Electric. "We've got whole trees knocked into equipment; large limbs the size of small trees hanging on power lines." UPDATE: 155,800 outages still exist for BGE customers, as of 6am Wednesday. BGE spokesman Rob Gould told WBAL-TV that most customers should get electricity back on today.

Delmarva Peninsula: 40,000 Delmarva Power customers were reported out of power Monday. At the height of the storm, about 220,000 customers were without power and the company expects to restore power to the majority of these customers by Wednesday. UPDATE: Delmarva Power says that about 5,000 customers are still out of power as of midnight, Wednesday. About 97% of the 164,000 who had lost power have been restored.

Washington DC: 71,000 power outages still exist in the PEPCO service territory as of Monday, including about 16,000 in Montgomery County; 44,000 in Prince George’s County; and 21,000 in Washington D.C. PEPCO said customers can expect power to be on by Thursday evening, but most customers can expect the power to be on sooner. UPDATE: As of Tuesday afternoon, PEPCO reported about 4,000 customers still out in Prince George’s County. "We will be done by Thursday at 7 p.m.," says Thomas Graham, Pepco president. "All customers will be restored. That's the goal we're shooting for. The vast majority of our customers will be restored before then."

Boston: 500,000 customers in the region lost power at the height of the storm. National Grid reports about 325,000 outages and NStar is reporting 200,000 outages as of Monday afternoon. “The damage is so extensive that in many places, we essentially have to re-build the electric system so we can restore power to customers,” said Werner Schweiger, NStar’s senior vice president of operations. “Given the sheer amount of work to be done, we know this will be a very time-consuming process.” UPDATE: About 108,000 outages still exist in Massachusetts towns according to National Grid on Wednesday. NStar reports 37,000 customers offline in the South Shore and Cape Cod areas.

Virginia: 270,000 customers in the Richmond area were still out of power Monday afternoon. Dominion Virginia Power has said it plans to have 75 percent of customers restored by Today, and 90-95 percent restored by Friday. Remaining outages should be repaired by Saturday. UPDATE: 180,000 in central Virginia remain without power, about 40% of the Richmond and Tri-City areas. 69,501 customers have been restored according to Dominion Virginia Power. Dominion spokesman Chet Wade said that they’re ahead of pace to meet their Friday goal of restoring power to all customers.

Rhode Island: 282,000 National Grid customers in Rhode Island are reportedly in the dark as of Monday Morning. The state was the most heavily impacted by Hurricane Irene, with 64% of customers out of power. UPDEATE: 113,000 were still reported out of power by Wednesday morning. "What you see here is a 24 hour operation with more than 1,000 people restoring power here in Rhode Island. We're getting customers back as quick as we can," Tim Horan, President of National Grid.

Vermont: 37,500 of 55,000 Central Vermont Public Service customers were still without electricity as of 7 a.m. Monday morning. “We have a tremendous roster of workers to assist us, but this will be one of the most challenging recovery efforts any of us has ever lived through,” said Joe Kraus, senior vice president for engineering, operations and customer service. Kraus said that customers should be prepared for extended outages, as roads and bridges in some areas are still impassable. UPDATE: 14,300 customers are still report off the grid as of Wednesday morning.

New Hampshire: 5,300 customers in the New Hampshire Electric Co-op territory were still without power on Monday, down from a high of 32,000 on Sunday night. Estimated restoration times range from noon Tuesday to noon Wednesday. UPDATE: Public Service Co. of New Hampshire reported 29,000 outages at noon on Tuesday, and New Hampshire Electroc Co-op is reporting 1,600 remaining. National Grid is reporting 11 outages, and Unitil has restored all New Hampshire customers.

Maine: 149,000 customers in Maine were reportedly still out of power Monday afternoon, with 137,000 customers of Central Maine Power, and 12,000 Bangor Hydro-Electric customers in the dark. Utility crews from Canada joined Maine’s own utility crews to help restore power. Maine Public Service customers had all power restored to all customers by late Monday. UPDATE: 44,000 Central Maine Power customers remain out of power Wednesday morning. Bangor Hydro reports less than 270 customers without power.

Sources

"Power outages continue across Maryland" - Baltimore Business Journal, August 29, 2011.
"Power Outages, Trains Biggest Irene Issues" - myfoxphilly.com, August 29, 2011.
"Is Con Edison Doing Enough to Repair Power in Your Area?" - White Plains Patch, August 29, 2011.
"4M without power as Hurricane Irene heads north" - Associated Press, August 28, 2011.
"Napolitano warns of many power outages from Irene" - Reuters, August 26, 2011.
"In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, flooding, power outages and road closures are causing headaches" - Newark Star-Ledger, August 29, 2011.
"Hurricane Irene still has 225,000 Peco customers powerless" - Philadelphia Business Journal, August 29, 2011.
"BGE expects to restore most service by Friday" - abc2news.com, August 29, 2011.
"HURRICANE: Delmarva Power continues restoration efforts" - delmarvanow.com, August 29, 2011.
"Post-Irene power, transport problems linger in MD, D.C." - Reuters, August 29, 2011.
"Lights Coming Back on For Some" - Groton Patch, August 29, 2011.
"Power outages, flooding from Irene in Massachusetts" - USA Today, August 29, 2011.
"Thousands without power, bridges closed as state cleans up after Irene" - Bangor Daily News, August 29, 2011.
"Irene Leaves Western Towns Flooded, Thousands Without Power" - thebostonchannel.com, August 29, 2011.
"After the storm, towns steamed at utilities’ slow response" - Herald News, August 29, 2011.
"CVPS: Full restoration of 37,500 outages statewide could take weeks" - vtdigger.com, August 29, 2011.
"UPDATE: Dominion says 90-95% of outages to be fixed by Friday" - Richmond Times-Dispatch, August 29, 2011.
"BGE: 80% Of Power Back On For Customers" -wbaltv.com, August 31, 2011.

Post-Hurricane Rebuilding

Monday August 29, 2011
Posted at 14:23

Although Hurricane Irene spared New York City and Long Island a direct hit, widespread rain is causing flooding concerns across the Northeast. Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey says that some of the state’s rivers are expected to experience record flooding with rivers expected to crest Monday and Tuesday, and Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin explained that the amount of water over such a sustained period in his mountainous state is resulting in extreme flash flooding in areas with bridges and buildings being swept away by the current.

In the immediate aftermath of a hurricane, your safety is the most important. Although most areas have been spared by Irene’s winds, damaged electrical equipment, wild or loose domesticated animals, raw sewage, and floodwaters can still pose dangers as you return to your family and your home. Please follow these tips to safely return to your home and begin cleanup.

Returning Home

  • Listen to radio or find out from authorities if it’s safe to return to your home after the hurricane if you’ve evacuated.
  • Bring a map with you – streets may be closed due to high water and damage.
  • Try to return to your home during daylight hours to minimize risks of tripping, falling, slipping, or cutting yourself on damaged building materials.
  • Alert family members of your plans to return home.
  • Be extra careful to watch out for debris, sinkholes, and high-water.
  • Do not drive through any water you cannot see the bottom of – standing water can hide large sinkholes, and even just a couple feet of fast-moving water can sweep a vehicle away.
  • Avoid driving near fallen power lines. Do not drive over them or through water that is in contact with fallen power lines.
  • If power lines fall on your vehicle while you’re driving, continue to drive through. If your vehicle stalls, do not get out, and do not turn off the ignition. Call for help from emergency rescue personnel.
  • Keep your radio tuned to news and emergency alerts for new information.
  • Keep a window slightly cracked to hear sirens or other warning signals more clearly.

Once at Home

  • Be extremely cautious.
  • Be wary of fallen power lines around you or your property. Alert your utility company of emergency hazards. Contact info available here: http://bit.ly/IreneOutage
  • Be cautious of flood damage around your home that may not be visible, especially in buildings near fast-moving current. Have a professional architect or engineer examine the structure of your home before you return.
  • If you feel your home shifting or hear any unusual creaking or groaning sounds from, leave the area immediately – the building may be in danger of collapse.
  • Turn on your flashlight outside, before entering your home. A spark caused by activating the switch on your light may ignite leaking gas inside your home.
  • If you smell gas in your home, open all the windows, shut the main valve into the home, and leave immediately. Report suspected gas leaks to your utility company: http://bit.ly/IreneOutage
  • Do not operate any lanterns, candles, or smoke, or turn on any lights before you are certain there are no gas leaks or vapors!
  • If you see exposed wiring, sparks, or can smell something burning, but can’t see it, your home may have experienced electrical damage. Shut off the electric system at the fuse box or circuit breaker, or have a professional do so.
  • Never hook up a generator to your home’s wiring. Doing so can feed unexpected electricity back into the grid and shock utility personnel.
  • Only operate generators in accordance with instructions – on flat, level surfaces in well ventilated and open areas away from open windows. Carbon monoxide is odorless and tasteless, and can be deadly!
  • Be sure to completely dry all appliances before using them. Have an electrician check your appliances if you’re unsure of their safety.

Food and Water Safety

  • Beware of food spoilage. Refrigerators can keep food safely cold for about four hours, and freezers can keep food safe for 24-48 hours (longer if the fridge is more full).
  • Food should be kept below 40 degrees, especially meat, poultry, fish and eggs.
  • Discard any food that may have come in contact with flood water. If the food is in a metal can or waterproof, take careful steps to remove the labels and disinfect the outside of the package before opening them.
  • Sanitize dishes, pots, pans, utensils, and countertops before preparing meals. Wash items using hot water and soap of possible, and then sanitize them by boiling in clean water or immersing in a water/bleach solution for 15 mins (1 tablespoon of unscented chlorine bleach per gallon of water).
  • Use bottled water for drinking. If you don’t have access to bottled water, you should boil water for at least one minute, and let it cool before storing in covered containers. Cloudy water should be allowed to settle or filtered before boiling.
  • If your well has flooded, contact your local health department or agriculture extension for advice.

How to Clean Up Safely

  • Wear clothing that can protect you. Work gloves, boots, earplugs, goggles, and other appropriate protective gear should be worn if you are working with power equipment or machinery.
  • Be careful of injury from stress and strain. Ask for help if moving objects over 50 pounds, or if the object is unwieldy. Lift with your legs, and don’t overextend yourself. Take time to perform tasks carefully, taking the time to rest and avoid over-exertion.
  • Be aware of animals. Domestic animals and wild animals will be disoriented after storms, as their familiar sights and sounds will be altered. Do not attempt to capture animals – call a local animal shelter or the proper authorities to take care of such animals.
  • Beware of increased rodents, snakes, and other animals that may be displaced from their natural habitats. Contact animal control or your solid waste department to dispose of dead animals. If you are bitten by an animal, seek the appropriate medical attention.
  • Watch out for chemicals or containers that may have washed onto your property. Propane and fuel tanks can pose explosion threats and should be reported to the fire department to safely handle.
  • Stay out of high water. As little as six inches of moving water can sweep away a person, and two feet of water can wash a vehicle off a road. High water can also hide downed power lines, and contain raw sewage, ants, pests, and snakes!
  • Always have fire extinguishers at your cleanup site, as water resources may be low and fire department response times may be extended.
  • Be sure to keep records of all damaged items and cleanup costs for insurance purposes - take photos of items before discarding, and keep all receipts related to cleanup and replacement!

How to Rebuild

  • Remember to stay tuned to local media and follow instructions of the authorities in your area.
  • If your home is beyond repair, you may be able to stay at a Red Cross shelter. Locate one near you: http://app.redcross.org/nss-app/
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, offers assistance to businesses and individuals to help rebuild.
  • Register for FEMA or state assistance:

More Resources

Spark Energy: Find your Utility Contact Info

American Red Cross

Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA)

Weather Information

State/Federal Information

Pets/Preparedness Information

Nursing and Health Related

Centers for Disease Control:

Food and Drug Administration:

United States Department of Agriculture

Sources

"Ensure Your Safety" - FEMA.
"What To Do After a Hurricane" - abcnews.com, July 30, 2005.
"Flood waters rise as Irene moves on, 1 killed in South Jersey" - Courier Post Online, August 28, 2011.
"Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin explains how officials are responding to mass flooding" - CNN, August 29, 2011.

Hurricane Irene: How Utilities are Preparing

Friday August 26, 2011
Posted at 08:06

Hurricane Irene is forecast to be a Category 3 or Category 4 storm by the time it makes landfall on Saturday evening. Major utilities in the region expected to be hit by the storm are already preparing.

PECO in the Philadelphia area is placing all crews on stand-by and securing local contractors in preparation for Hurricane Irene. PECO is also arranging for support from its sister utility, ComEd in Chicago, to be in the area for added assistance.

Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P) says they’re preparing for the worst and hoping for the best, cancelling all vacations and placing all staff on standby. “CL&P has a comprehensive plan to respond to Hurricane Irene-caused problems in Connecticut,” says Jeff Butler, President and Chief Operating Officer of CL&P. Like PECO, CL&P is also coordinating regionally, “Our parent company, Northeast Utilities is coordinating for us and our sister companies in Massachusetts and New Hampshire to secure both additional line crews and tree crews to expedite restoration,” Butler adds.

New York City’s Office of Emergency Management was continuing to closely monitor the storm. "The city has already seen the power of Mother Nature once this week, and Mother Nature may not be done with us yet," said New York Mayor, Michael Bloomburg.

PSE&G, New Jersey’s largest utility issued a press release announcing it is closely monitoring the track of the hurricane and making emergency preparations should “the storm bring heavy rain and strong winds to our service territory.” PSE&G also plans to have all available personnel ready to respond, staging poles and extra equipment in areas ready for prompt response. “Depending on the severity of the storm, response times for both electric and gas emergency services may be longer than usual. PSE&G asks for our customers' patience and cooperation as we work to safely restore service as quickly as possible,” said the press release.

In Baltimore, BGE spokeswoman has requested through a mutual assistance network that 500 additional lineman and support staff be dispatched to BGE's coverage area. The 158 crews from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee are expected to arrive before the weekend. According to spokeswoman Rachael Lighty, "we are monitoring this storm and taking proactive steps in order to be prepared should major outages occur," Lighty said. "We haven't seen a hurricane of this magnitude for several years so we're asking our customers to prepare."

Sources

"Before, During and After a Hurricane" - PhillyBurbs.com, August 25, 2011.

"CL&P Says It's Preparing for the Worst and Hoping For The Best" - Ridgefield Press, August 25, 2011.

"Hurricane Irene New York: Mayor Bloomberg Warns of Possible Evacuations" - International Business Times, August 25, 2011.

"PSE&G Prepares for Hurricane Irene" - Marketwatch, August 25, 2011.

"Agencies Tell Residents to Prepare for the Threat of Hurricane Irene" - Carroll County Times, August 24, 2011.

Electricity Outage Contact Information

Thursday August 25, 2011
Posted at 16:07

To assist areas that may be affected by Hurricane Irene, we've compiled the following list of utility contact information. Contact your utility company, not your electric supplier, to report an outage. Utility systems can locate generalized outages, but you should report your specific outage to help pinpoint areas with the most need. (UPDATE: Click here for a separate post we're updating with the latest news on Irene, including maps and stats.)

If you would like to see information added to this list, leave a note in the comment thread below.

(NOTE: Print this list out for reference in case you lose power! )

New England:

Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P) All non-UI Areas in Connecticut
Report Outage: 1-800-286-2000

Report Outage Online: https://www.cl-p.com/customer/outage/outagelogin.aspx?sec=fb
Storm Center: http://www.cl-p.com/stormcenter/default.aspx
Outage Map: http://www.cl-p.com/outage/OutageMap.aspx
Follow on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CTLightandPower
Get Mobile Updates: Text “outage” and your zip code to 24612

United Illuminating (UI) New Haven and Bridgeport, CT
Report Outage: 1-800-7CALL-UI or 203-499-3333
Storm Center: http://bit.ly/r9zen0
Outage Map: http://bit.ly/rn6cqA
Follow on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/UnitedIllum
If you need additional assistance, please call Connecticut's toll-free Infoline, 2-1-1

National Grid – Western Mass
Report Gas Emergency: 1-800-892-2345
Report Power Outage (New England): 1-800-465-1212
Storm Center: https://www.nationalgridus.com/niagaramohawk/storm/storm.asp
Outage Map: http://www1.nationalgridus.com/niagaramohawk/stormcenter/
Follow on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/NationalGridUS

NSTAR – Cape Cod/South Shore Area
Report Outage: 800-592-2000
Storm Center: http://www.nstar.com/residential/storm_center/default.asp

Pennsylvania-

PECO - Philadelphia, PA
Report Outage: 1-800-841-4141
Mobile Outage Reporting: http://www.peco.com/mobile
View Mobile Outage Info: http://www.peco.com/mobile/outageinfo
Outage Map: http://www.peco.com/outagemap
Storm Center: http://www.peco.com/StormCentral

PPL Electric Utilities – Harrisburg, Lancaster, Williamsport, Hazleton, Scranton, Bethlehem, PA
Report Outage: 1-800-DIAL-PPL
Report Outage Online: https://selfserv.pplelectric.com/EUSelfServ/Outage/ReportOutage.aspx
Outage Map: https://selfserv.pplelectric.com/EUSelfServ/Outage/OutageMap.aspx
Storm Center: http://www.pplelectric.com/Outage+Center/preparing+for+storms.htm

Mid-Atlantic-

Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE) – Baltimore, MD
Report Outage: 1-877-778-2222
Outage Map: http://www.bge.com/customerservice/stormsoutages/currentoutages/Pages/default.aspx
Storm Center: http://www.bge.com/customerservice/stormsoutages/stormcenter/Pages/default.aspx
Follow on Twitter: http://twitter.com/MyBGE

Delmarva Power – Delmarva Peninsula (Maryland and Delaware)
Natural Gas Outages: 302-454-0317
NCCo, Cecil, Harford Power Outages: 1-800-898-8042
Kent, Sussex, Eastern Shore Power Outages: 1-800-898-8045
Outage Map: http://www.delmarva.com/home/emergency/maps/stormcenter/
Storm Center: http://www.delmarva.com/welcome/news/releases/archives/2011/article.aspx?cid=1815
Follow on Twitter: http://twitter.com/DelmarvaConnect

Allegheny Power – Western Maryland
Report Outage: 1-800-Allegheny (1-800-255-3443)
Outage Center: http://www.alleghenypower.com/CSC/Services/PowerOutages.asp
Outage Map: https://app.alleghenyenergy.com/outagestatus/Map/AE_MAP1.html

Potomac Electric Power Co (PEPCO) – Washington DC and Maryland
Report Outages: 1-877-PEPCO-62
Report Outage Online: http://www.pepco.com/home/emergency/report/online/
Storm Center: http://www.pepco.com/welcome/news/releases/archives/2011/article.aspx?cid=1814
Outage Map: http://www.pepco.com/home/emergency/maps/stormcenter/

New York/New Jersey:
ConEdison – New York City
Report Outage: 1-800-75-CONED
Report Outage Online: https://apps1.coned.com/csol/reportoutage.asp
Storm Center: http://www.coned.com/sm/storm_prepare/hurricane.asp
Outage Map: http://apps.coned.com/weboutageinfo/stormcenter/default.aspx

National Grid – Long Island, Upstate New York
Report Gas Emergency: 1-800-892-2345
Report Power Outage (New York): 1-800-867-5222
Report Power Outage (New England): 1-800-465-1212
Storm Center: https://www.nationalgridus.com/niagaramohawk/storm/storm.asp
Outage Map: http://www1.nationalgridus.com/niagaramohawk/stormcenter/
Follow on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/NationalGridUS

PSE&G – Central Jersey
Report Outage: 1-800-436-PSEG
Report Outage Online: http://bit.ly/rc2w8l
Outage Center: http://www.pseg.com/outagecenter
Outage Map: http://www.pseg.com/home/customer_service/outage_info/outagemap.jsp
Follow on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/psegoutageinfo

Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) – Central Jersey
Report Outages: 1-888-LIGHTSS (1-888-544-4877
Report Outage Online: https://www.firstenergycorp.com/outages_help/Report_Power_Outages.html
Outage Map: https://www.firstenergycorp.com/outages/outages.do?state_code=NJ

Orange & Rockland Electric Company – NW New York City Suburbs and Northern New Jersey
Report Gas Leak: 1-800-533-5325
Report Power Outage: 1-877-434-4100
Report Outage Online: https://apps.coned.com/oronline/outage/electricoutage.aspx
Outage Map: http://wp1.coned.com/or_stormcenter/default.aspx

Atlantic City Electric – South Jersey
Report Outage: 1-800-833-7476
Storm Center: http://www.atlanticcityelectric.com/welcome/news/releases/archives/2011/article.aspx?cid=1816
Outage Map: http://www.atlanticcityelectric.com/home/emergency/maps/stormcenter/default.aspx
Follow on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ACElecConnect

Getting Prepared for Hurricane Irene

Thursday August 25, 2011
Posted at 16:00

Hurricane Irene is forecast to hit Category 3 or 4 when it makes landfall in North Carolina on Saturday evening. Check this post for updates.

UPDATE 8/26: Stats on Irene as of 2:00 p.m. EDT:

Sustained winds: 10 mph
Wind Gusts: 125 mph
Latitude: 31.2N
Longitude 77.5W
Pressure: 951.00mb
Movement: North at 14mph
Located: 300 mi SSW of Cape Hatteras, NC

Stats on Irene as of 10:00 a.m. EDT:

Sustained winds: 105 mph
Wind Gusts: 125 mph
Latitude: 30.7N
Longitude 77.3W
Pressure: 946.00mb
Movement: North at 14mph
Located: 212 mi SE of Charleston, SC

ComEd in Chicago is already sending crews to Philadelphia in advance of the storm to help sister utility PECO with expected outages.

-0-

The projected path for Hurricane Irene sets it on course to hit the East Coast from North Carolina to New England this weekend, marking the strongest storm to hit the Northeast in two decades. This morning, the National Hurricane Center said that Irene is “forecast to become a larger than average hurricane,” and is now a Category 3 storm. (UPDATE: NOAA map of Irene is here.)

High winds are expected to impact Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York City, Albany, Boston, and much of New England. Winds could be strong enough to cause structural damage in areas closest to the storm, but downed trees and power outages could be widespread and should be expected. Rhode Island as well as the Eastern halves of Long Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts are at the greatest risk of tornado threats.

Philadelphia and New York City can expect to break rainfall records for the month, and heavy rain should be expected from Washington DC through New England.

What You Should Do

Before the storm:

  • Have several flashlights and extra batteries available. Candles can pose a fire danger – flashlights are much safer! Also have a battery powered radio available to stay updated on news.
  • Pack a hurricane emergency kit including at least a 3-day water supply for each person (1 gal per person per day), non-perishable food, and a first aid kit. Include baby or pet supplies if applicable.
  • Bring in anything that can be picked up by the wind including lawn furniture, bicycles, etc.
  • Turn your refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings (be sure to check your manual) and keep them closed as much as possible so food can last longer.
  • Fill up your gas tank and take out some cash. Electrically powered gas pumps and ATMs are unlikely to work in the immediate aftermath of the storm.
  • Be sure to locate copies of important documents, medication lists, proof of address, deeds, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies.
  • Turn off and unplug sensitive electronics to prevent possible damage: television and stereo equipment, game consoles, and computer equipment.
  • Stay tuned on the radio and TV to find out if there are any evacuation orders for your area. Plan routes to shelters, and turn off utilities if instructed by authorities. Turn off or remove propane tanks.
  • Register special medical needs family members with local authorities in case of evacuation or extended electrical outage.
  • More tips from FEMA here.

During the storm:

  • Continue listening to the radio or TV for information.
  • Fill the bathtub or other large containers with water for sanitary purposes such as bathing or flushing toilets. Localized water pumps may lose power.
  • Stay indoors and away from windows and doors. Close interior doors, brace external doors in case of extreme winds.
  • Keep curtains and blinds closed.
  • Do not go outside if the storm seems to have passed – it could be the eye of the storm!
  • Take refuge in a small interior room or closet on the lowest level of your home.
  • More tips from FEMA here.

After the storm:

  • Stay away from downed wires, damaged or exposed electrical equipment, or trees or tree limbs in contact with wires or electrical equipment. Live wires do not necessarily look like they may be energized, so please stay away from such wires and report to your utility.
  • Be careful when cleaning up your property to keep pool nets, tree trimmers, ladders and other equipment far from power lines.
  • Generators should never be wired into your home’s circuitry. Any equipment needed to run on a generator (refrigerator, pumps, fans) should be plugged into the generator directly. Also, be sure to operate the generator in accordance with manufacturer guidelines, and in a well ventilated area!
  • Keep your refrigerator closed as much as possible. Move meats, dairy, etc into the freezer to stay colder longer. A partially full freezer can keep food frozen up to 24 hours, and about 48 hours if completely full.
  • Call your utility to report an electric outage. See our list here on how to do so.
  • More info from the Red Cross here.

Sources

"Hurricane Irene: Major Northeast Threats" - Weather.com, August 25, 2011.

"CL&P Says It's Preparing for the Worst and Hoping For The Best" - Ridgefield Press, August 25, 2011.

"Red Cross Hurricane Safety Checklist" - Red Cross.

"Hurricane Irene New York: Mayor Bloomberg Warns of Possible Evacuations" - International Business Times, August 25, 2011.

"PSE&G Prepares for Hurricane Irene" - Marketwatch, August 25, 2011.

"Agencies Tell Residents to Prepare for the Threat of Hurricane Irene" - Carroll County Times, August 24, 2011.

Houston Ranks Fifth in Estimated Damage From Category Five Storm

Tuesday June 14, 2011
Posted at 08:14

Houston would be in the top five cities in nation for potential property damage in the event of a Category 5 hurricaneHouston, Texas would rank fifth highest among U.S. cities in terms of potential property damage if it were to suffer a direct hit by a category five hurricane, the most severe type of hurricane, according to a new report.

The report, “2011 Storm Surge Report,” by CoreLogic, a California-based information analytics company, estimated that a category five storm would cost Houston $20 billion in property loss, which would rank the city fifth behind Long Island, New York; Miami, Florida; Virginia Beach, Virginia; and Tampa, Florida.

According to the report, Long Island could suffer a staggering $99 billion in property loss from a category five storm.

The report considered five data sets — coastal surge risk, hurricane propensity, coastal water feature, mainland determination and elevation — in developing its estimations. The most vulnerable ZIP codes in the Houston area include 77573, 77554, 77059, 77571, 77062, 77566, 77586, 77539, 77546 and 77521.

Sources

Swamplot (blog), “A $20 Billion Bath for Houston,” May 3, 2011.

CoreLogic website, “Advanced Storm Surge Analytics Enhance Your Coastal Risk Profile.”

Who to Call When the Power Goes Out in Texas

Friday June 10, 2011
Posted at 08:14

Who to call if the power goes out after a hurricane in Texas

Whenever you lose power, it’s important to know who to call to report the problem. Many Texas consumers think you should report outages to the company that sends you your bill, your residential electric supplier; however, you actually need to report the outage to your electric utility. Your electric utility is responsible for reliability issues, such as power outages, downed power lines and maintenance.

Because hurricane season starts June 1, we put together a list of all the electric utility emergency contact numbers that Spark Energy customers in Texas can call if their power ever goes out, even in the event of a hurricane.

It might be best to print out this information and keep it handy. After all, if the power goes out, you won’t be able to come back to this webpage for the information.

Contacting Your Electric Utility

If you don’t know who your electric utility is, find your electric bill and look for “Local Distribution Company.” Your electric utility is identified here. The following emergency numbers should be there as well, but we’ve also listed them here for your convenience.

Oncor - 888-313-4747

TNMP - 888-866-7465

Customers in TNMP’s service area are encouraged to select option 2 when they call in order to hear a recorded message about known power outages. Customers who don’t hear a message about their power outage should select option 1 to be transferred to an agent who will record their information.

Centerpoint

For power outages: 800-332-7143 or 713-207-2222

For downed power lines: 713-207-2222

AEP Texas (AEP Texas Central Company and AEP Texas North Company)

Customers in AEP Texas’ service areas — which include customers of AEP Texas Central Company and AEP Texas North Company — are asked not to call the utility in case of a major storm, such as a hurricane. According to the utility’s website:

“In the immediate aftermath of a major storm, we ask that you call only to report safety hazards such as downed power lines or equipment that is sparking. During major storms, our telephone lines can become overloaded with customer calls. In these situations, we are aware of major damage to long-distance transmission lines and distribution circuits.”

For downed power lines and other safety hazards: 866-223-8505

For power outages not the result of a major storm: go online at http://www.aeptexas.com/outages/report.

3 Steps for Dealing with a Power Outage From a Hurricane

Thursday June 9, 2011
Posted at 08:15

Preparating for a hurricane takes planningHurricane season is right around the corner and that means it’s time to think about preparing for the possibility of being unable to get power from your electric company for a while. Here are three simple steps for making sure you can deal with a power outage — before the lights go out.

1. Create a Disaster Supply Kit

The first thing you should do to prepare for being without power during a hurricane is create a disaster supply kit. You can keep it in your garage or somewhere near your car in case you have to evacuate. Make a list of the following items and then cross them off as you add them to your kit:

- Water — At least one gallon of bottled drinking water per day per person, for seven days. For a family of four, that’s 28 gallons.
- Food — You need to buy enough non-perishable foods (canned foods, juices, snacks) to last for seven days. Make sure to include foods for infants and the elderly; a non-electric can opener; cooking tools and fuel, including plastic utensils, paper plates and bowls; and if you’re ambitious, a stove for cooking.
- Medicine — Make sure you have a first aid kit, an ample supply of any prescription medications, some extra bandages and antibiotic spray or ointment.
- Papers — Gather copies of important documents — things like driver’s licenses, Social Security cards, insurance papers, proof of residence, wills, deeds, birth and marriage certificates — and seal them safe inside a waterproof container, like a Ziploc bag or waterproof safe. Include road maps of the city and state you live in, as well as a map that includes surrounding states.
- Hygiene — Get a large Ziploc bag and fill it with toiletries, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, moist wipes, mouthwash, soap, shampoo, razor and shaving gel or electric razor, feminine hygiene supplies and anything else you may need to keep clean.
- Flashlights, Candles, Matches and Extra Batteries — Include a couple of high-power flashlights in your disaster supply kit, along with some candles that you can burn at night in order to save batteries. Make sure you have extra matches for the candles and extra batteries for the flashlights.
- Cell Phones and Radio — Keep your cell phone charged and buy an extra battery and charge it too, just in case. Also, buy a battery-operated radio and keep it and several extra batteries in your kit.
- Tools — Make sure you have a good travel-size tool set just in case you need to fix anything.
- Clothing, Blankets and Pillows — Keep several days’ worth of clothing in your kit, as well as a few blankets and pillows.
- Cash — Consider keeping a couple hundred dollars in your kit so you’ll have it if you need it. When the power goes out, ATMs won’t work.
- Pet Care Items — If you have pets, you need to include identification and immunization papers; food and water for at least seven days; muzzle or leash; carrier or cage; and anything else you might need in case of a power outage or evacuation.

2. Prepare Your Home

Once you’ve completed your disaster supply kit, the next thing you need to do is prepare your home for being without power. Just like you did for your disaster relief kit, make a list of the following tasks and cross them off when you complete them:

- Water — Clean all the bathtubs and sinks in your home and then fill them with water. You’ll be able to use this water for taking sponge baths and for filling toilets for flushing. If you keep the water clean, and don’t bathe directly in it, you could also use it for drinking water if your seven-day supply of bottled water runs out. Consider buying several additional five-gallon containers of water to supplement your bathing and bathroom needs.
- Fuel — Keep your cars’ gas tanks full in case of extended power outages or in case you need to evacuate and need to get on the roadways. Gas will be hard to find in town and far outside of town along evacuation routes as well once a storm hits. Consider filling a few five-gallon fuel tanks and taking them with you to extend the range of your car.
- Refrigerators and Freezers — Turn your refrigerator and freezer thermostats to their coldest settings and keep the doors closed as much as possible.

3. Develop a Plan to Go Where the Power Is

In case your electricity may be out for a while, or you’re instructed to evacuate, make sure you have a place to go — preferably one with power. Here are a few suggestions:

- Make sure your family has a way to contact one another in case you’re separated when a storm strikes and the power goes out.
- Arrange for a place to meet in your neighborhood, or at a family residence or another location further inland, such as a motel, that is more likely to have uninterrupted power.
- Designate an out-of-town family or friend to serve as a point of contact in case it becomes easier to make long distance calls than to call across town.

Sources

Ready America (FEMA) website, “Hurricanes.”

National Hurricane Center website, “Hurricane Preparedness: Be Prepared.”

2011 Hurricane Season Outlook for Atlantic and Gulf Coast Customers

Wednesday June 8, 2011
Posted at 08:07

Hurricane season has arrived for Atlantic and Gulf Coast residents

Hurricane season is here once again for Spark Energy residential electric customers. Although researchers at North Carolina State University’s Coastal Fluid Dynamics Lab say 2011 will be another busy year for Atlantic and Gulf Coast hurricanes, they predict it won’t be as bad as 2010.

- About 13 to 16 named storms will form in the Atlantic Basin, an area including the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. That number is much higher than the 50-year average of 9.6 named storms, but less than the 19 storms that formed last year.
- Of the 13 to 16 named storms forming in the Atlantic basin, seven to nine storms are expected to become hurricanes.
- There is a 70 percent chance that one of the seven to nine storms will make landfall along the coast of the southeastern United States, a 40 percent chance that one of those storms will arrive as a hurricane and a 15 percent chance that the landfalling storm will be classified as a major hurricane, which is classified as category three or higher.
- In the Gulf of Mexico, three to five named storms are predicted to form. Of those, two to four are expected to make landfall, with a 70 percent chance that one will reach landfall as a hurricane and a 15 percent chance that the hurricane will be category three or stronger.

At Spark Energy, we take hurricanes seriously and recommend that you prepare for the possibility of being without power for an extended period.

Source

North Carolina State University Coastal Fluid Dynamics Lab website, “2011 Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Outlook.”

Active Atlantic Hurricane Season Predicted for 2011,” PhysOrg.com, April 15, 2011.