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Bill Graham
12-09-2017, 10:41 PM
I live in the NW Atlanta burbs, in a neighborhood that used to be the out in the country but now you can't swing a cat without hitting a chain drug store or a nail salon in a strip mall. But that's progress, right?

In the old days when the power went off, I'd get in the car, ride the streets between the house and the main road, see something wrong and call the dispatcher at the power company and report the problem. It might take a few calls to get through since he was the only man answering the phone but eventually we'd talk, he'd let me know what was going on, assign a crew and roughly when the power would come back on. I'd know for certain the problem was known, there might be other outages but I knew they knew about it and our outage would get fixed in turn.

But that was the old days...:(

We had a "snow event" here starting yesterday morning(as usual, the weather forecasters were calling it a "50% chance of light frozen mix in the morning") until it started snowing at 7:00 AM and didn't stop. Then the forecast changed to 1-4" of accumulation. It snowed all day, big fat fluffy flakes that built up on the tree limbs. Today after it finally quit snowing there was 10" of snow on the cars in the driveway, so much for the weathermen.

Our power went out at 6:00 PM yesterday, I figured it was a temporary thing and I was right, it came back on around 9:00. By then trees were shedding limbs like a cat shedding a winter coat, it sounded like a war zone outside. 15 minutes later we were in the dark. And we've been there ever since.

I made my run up to the corner, at the corner before the street hit the main road there was a tree fallen across the power lines and high-voltage lines laying in the road. The shotgun fuses on the circuit had blown so there wasn't any of the arcy-sparky thing going on but the street was blocked and power to the whole subdivision was out. I first tried to call in and use the computerized phone system but the line was busy. 25 redials later the same thing. So I went to the website on the iPhone, go to the report outages page, no joy: "Problem with the network". Then to their outage map where you can put in an address only to find that my address "can't be found in the company's service area". That was a surprise, they've been sending bills to this address since 1972. Maybe I should ask for my money back with interest?

So here I am 30 hours later, no power, no word from the power company. I've repeatedly emailed and Tweeted with no acknowledgement that me or my neighbors exist or that our power is out. My daughter found a post on their Facebook feed that said not to pay attention to what their outage maps showed, they were't right. The map shows 38,000 outages but they say they're down to 11, 000. Their Twitter feed continues to tell people to call the phone # that doesn't work, use their online report page(which still gives a network error) or, if all else fails to email member services with your outage. But don't expect a response, they're too busy. Thank God for my two Honda generators, I'd have lost 2 refrigerators and a freezer full of food if not for them.

Ain't progress wonderful?

So I gave in tonight and dialed 911 to report the downed lines as a life-safety issue. Hopefully they can talk to a live person at the EMC.

I worked for a power company many years ago and I know that the guys on the trucks are busting ass to get everything back up. They're great people trying to do a difficult and dangerous job as fast as they can. It ain't easy working a 48-hour shift with a few 30-minute breaks to grab a nap or something to eat at the Waffle house. They're the heroes when something like this happens.

The geeks that "value-engineer" the computer systems that can't provide their customers with the information they need when they're cold and in the dark are the zeroes, they should all be fired along with the bean counters that hired them. Or better yet, have to work as a grunt on a line truck for a year or two.

Rant over, soapbox back under the bench. Apologies but I'm just pissed about the no-contact thing. We're supposed to call this "progress"?

Mike Cutler
12-09-2017, 11:25 PM
Hopefully you get your power back soon. It can be stressful to be without power, but thank goodness your prepared.
We lost power for 4 days in October. Same issues with the provider up here.
I had a little 4kw generator to get me through, but next time I'll be more prepared.

Malcolm Schweizer
12-10-2017, 1:37 AM
I'm on my 95th day without power. That's ninety-five days without power. Please take a number and have a seat.

John K Jordan
12-10-2017, 6:33 AM
I'm on my 95th day without power. That's ninety-five days without power. Please take a number and have a seat.

Yikes, those of us who have power: let's remember to be thankful every day and not take it for granted. When I lived in the city of Oak Ridge (TN) our power went out so often I bought a generator. Since moving to this farm in the country in 2003 it's only been out a couple of times, the longest for a few hours while they dug up and repaired the 7200v line running up to the house.

Malcolm, have you posted an update on your situation recently? If so, sorry I missed it. If not, I for one would be interested in hearing your story. (Here's an idea - make notes and write a book. I'd buy the first copy.)

JKJ

Curt Harms
12-10-2017, 6:46 AM
We had an event like that a few years ago around Halloween. About 10" of wet snow on trees that had not yet dropped their leaves. Big limbs and whole trees down everywhere. Some small roads were closed for a week or more due to downed limbs & trees. Hang in there, it could be worse. Just ask Malcolm.

Jason Roehl
12-10-2017, 7:52 AM
Much longer and you won't miss it, Malcom!

We had a power outage one morning about 18 months ago--I just happened to wake up and notice the alarm clock was dark at about 4AM. My wife called it in, and by 5:30, there were linemen poking around the neighborhood, as this was isolated and not due to inclement weather, nor the usual (traffic accident). I poked my head outside and directed the linemen to the transformer on the corner of my property (it was still dark, and there's some brush in that corner hiding it).

I proceeded to get ready for work, and I went outside a few minutes early to leave for work and get an update from the linemen on what might be happening. One guy whipped out an iPad, and showed me how the lines come into the neighborhood on poles, and at the one end they drop underground, and split three ways to feed the neighborhood. The center trunk of the three was out. Since the transformer on my property was not powered, I said, "Well, it's pretty obvious you have a problem between the pole and that transformer." He said no and we went on our ways. I went to work, but told my wife that if the power wasn't on by 9AM, I'd leave and get a generator, either rent or buy. She called me later and told me that it had come back on, that they called a crusty old lineman in, who had probably never used an iPad, and he solved the problem--a break in the line--you guessed it--between the pole and my transformer. Man, I would have loved to have been there.

Jim Becker
12-10-2017, 9:10 AM
Our local provider (PECO/Exelon) pretty much knows when there's an outage immediately when it occurs...they whole system is computerized and even workflow is included so they can almost immediately indicate expected restoration. Given most infrastructure is aerial around here, outages from weather and "vehicular incidents" are somewhat common, particularly in the winter.

But I don't worry about that anymore...we finally put in a NG fired whole house generator a little over a year ago, so we're only affected for about 15 seconds or so.

Jerome Stanek
12-10-2017, 10:38 AM
Our local provider (PECO/Exelon) pretty much knows when there's an outage immediately when it occurs...they whole system is computerized and even workflow is included so they can almost immediately indicate expected restoration. Given most infrastructure is aerial around here, outages from weather and "vehicular incidents" are somewhat common, particularly in the winter
But I don't worry about that anymore...we finally put in a NG fired whole house generator a little over a year ago, so we're only affected for about 15 seconds or so.

Our grid isn't a smart grid and but have the option to get a smart meter. There is to many disadvantages to that in my opinion.

Jim Becker
12-10-2017, 10:39 AM
Smart meters are not optional here...they changed them all out a few years ago. Mandatory.

Mike Cutler
12-10-2017, 10:47 AM
I'm on my 95th day without power. That's ninety-five days without power. Please take a number and have a seat.

If I could send you a generator, I would in a heartbeat.
You're the reason I wasn't whining to terribly much when we lost lost power for 4 days in early October. I think you were on day 45 at that time. :(

Malcolm Schweizer
12-10-2017, 2:23 PM
I'm on my 95th day without power. That's ninety-five days without power. Please take a number and have a seat.

By the way, this wasn't supposed to sound so cynical. I meant you've got a long wait before you can complain- but I was laughing. I admit it is easier in the heat than in the cold.

Brian Henderson
12-10-2017, 5:19 PM
Smart meters are not optional here...they changed them all out a few years ago. Mandatory.

Same here. Mandatory, no warning, didn't ask, just showed up at the door one day, told me they were replacing the meter and disconnected my service, didn't care if I was using it or not, it was just gone for a couple of hours.

Andrew Joiner
12-10-2017, 7:20 PM
By the way, this wasn't supposed to sound so cynical. I meant you've got a long wait before you can complain- but I was laughing. I admit it is easier in the heat than in the cold.

I really admire you for laughing about it Malcolm. Attitude is everything. I'd buy your book as well.

Brian Elfert
12-10-2017, 7:45 PM
Smart meters are not optional here...they changed them all out a few years ago. Mandatory.

I am getting a smart meter this month for my solar. My neighborhood is scheduled for smart meters in the spring, but they are doing them early if you need a new meter for solar. They don't want to replace the meter twice. The good news is they no longer charge $195 to change out the meter.

They are offering an option to keep your regular meter, but they charge $50 a month.

Jim Becker
12-10-2017, 8:34 PM
Without a smart meter...they have to send a meter reader person to, um...read it. :) Hence, the charge. They were estimating here for a long time with a periodic true-up after an actual read. That was for both gas and electric. Now, both meters are "smart" and transmit the date automagically...

Matt Meiser
12-11-2017, 8:33 AM
Same here. Mandatory, no warning, didn't ask, just showed up at the door one day, told me they were replacing the meter and disconnected my service, didn't care if I was using it or not, it was just gone for a couple of hours.

They are taking hours to change out to smart meters? Our utility sent post cards every week for a couple weeks explaining the process and offering scheduled timeslots if desired. When they actually to do it they had a set of jumpers to connect around the meter. They record the reading from the old meter (on one of those worthless computer things us Zeros program) and take a picture of the face, change the meter, scan the barcode on the new meter to activate it and pull the jumpers. The whole process takes maybe 5 minutes.

I'm not sure if they communicate over the power lines or by a cell modem. Maybe in your area they also had to install powerline communication gear?

Jim Becker
12-11-2017, 9:26 AM
Matt, here the meters appear to have short-range transmitters and there are visible receivers on the pole infrastructure are intervals. These have yagi antennas that point back to a centralized collection point it appears.

glenn bradley
12-11-2017, 9:29 AM
And insightful observation. And unfortunate situation to be sure. In actuality though the problem has very little to do with computers and everything to do with the people who are operating them :-)

Guns arenít killers and computers arenít stupid but people can be both :-)

Matt Meiser
12-11-2017, 9:52 AM
Matt, here the meters appear to have short-range transmitters and there are visible receivers on the pole infrastructure are intervals. These have yagi antennas that point back to a centralized collection point it appears.

I just looked ours up, appears they have options for 4GLTE and an IPV6 mesh network. Not sure which we have but in a subdivision a mesh network would probably work great.

Brian Elfert
12-12-2017, 8:16 PM
Without a smart meter...they have to send a meter reader person to, um...read it. :) Hence, the charge. They were estimating here for a long time with a periodic true-up after an actual read. That was for both gas and electric. Now, both meters are "smart" and transmit the date automagically...

I think the $50 monthly fee is both for reading the meter and to discourage customers from opting out. If a lot of people opt out they will probably read the meters each month. I bet they won't read meters monthly if only a few people opt out. I have no intention of opting out. The CO-OP wants people on smart meters for reasons other than eliminating meter reading. Smart meters allow the CO-OP to know who does/does not have power during outages.

Xcel Energy is the big electricity utility here. They have had radio read meters for probably 25 years now. They are not smart meters.