September is recognized annually as National Preparedness Month—an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies.
What’s more, for the third year in a row, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting an above-average hurricane season in the Atlantic.
Pennsylvania doesn’t have a coastline, but we can still be impacted by hurricanes, tropical storms and other bouts of severe weather. We want you to know that when mother nature lashes out, we’re ready to respond to power outages as safely and quickly as possible, around the clock, to get the lights back on.
Not only are we prepared to respond to outages, we’ve taken steps to help avoid them altogether, despite the weather.
Like we always say: The best outage is an outage that never happens in the first place.
Smart grid devices are just one part of our investments to continuously improve the reliability of your electric service. Other work includes new power lines and substations; stronger, more storm-resistant poles; and trimming more trees. Find out more about the ways we’re strengthening the electric delivery system to meet your expectations for safe, reliable service at pplelectric.com/reliability.
Be prepared. Stay informed.
Have you managed your alerts recently? We’ve made it easier than ever for you to stay informed during severe weather with our automated alerts. You can receive information regarding outages, repair crew status and estimated restoration times, all via text message, phone or email. Pick your preferences at pplelectric.com/alerts. And remember that you can report or check on an outage at pplelectric.com/outage.
Plus, we use social media to provide storm updates and share tips on how to stay safe before, during and after storms. Follow us @PPLElectric for all the latest news and updates.
Customers who have been without power for 24 hours or more as a result of storms can now purchase ice and water from any local vendor and send us the receipts. If you send us your receipts, we’ll credit your account.
Each customer can purchase a maximum of three 10-pound bags of ice and three gallons of water per day.
Additional purchases will not be eligible for an account credit.
We’ve never been afraid to experiment with new technology or implement innovative ideas if it means more reliable service for our customers.
So as soon as battery technology became more advanced, our engineers were excited to launch a program within the PPL territory, specifically along a line in the Harrisburg region that experienced outages in the past.
These batteries, connected to the grid, will instantly kick-in when customers are out of power and can keep the lights on for 6 hours or more!
The Harrisburg battery project is the first of its kind on the PPL grid and we’re already looking into other regions that would benefit from this technology.
This innovative solution is a huge plus for power quality and reliability for our customers. And batteries are just the start of ensuring a safer, more reliable and resilient grid.
Our goal is to provide exceptional service to you.
One key way we’re doing that is with a new automated power restoration system that’s turning the lights back on for customers in minutes, even before a work crew has made repairs.
The system uses smart grid technology that includes pole-top sensors to detect outages, a central computer that quickly analyzes the problem, and remote-control switches that reroute power and restore customers to service.
Here’s a video that shows how it works:
This advanced technology has already meant shorter power outages for thousands of homes and businesses, as the system has been phased in around our delivery area. It became fully operational in June.
During severe thunderstorms the week of July 18, our smart grid restored 9,488 homes and businesses to service in an average of one minute and 56 seconds. The following week, during another round of severe storms, the technology restored 5,308 customers automatically in an average of one minute and 36 seconds.
Here are some other recent examples of smart grid operations:
A tree branch fell on a power line in Thompsontown, Juniata County, on April 9, cutting power to 1,800 customers. The PPL smart grid returned 1,016 of the customers to service in four minutes.
An equipment failure in the Whitehall area June 28 cut power to 1,578 customers. In two minutes, 856 of the customers were back in power.
A storm in the Bloomsburg area June 28 cut power to 1,694 customers. In four minutes, smart grid had turned power back on for 1,456 customers.
A tree fell on a power line in the Macungie area on June 24, cutting power to 1,758 customers. In two minutes, 923 of the customers were returned to service.
We’re continuing to invest in technology and equipment to improve reliability for you. We’ve reduced outages by 30 percent since 2007, with an improvement of another 15 percent expected in the next five years. Last year our reliability programs prevented an estimated 410,000 power outages.
Does your family have a plan in case of a natural disaster or other emergency? According to the Ad Council, half of Americans don’t have an emergency plan for their family. I’m embarrassed to say that I used to be one of them.
We go to great lengths to protect our loved ones. We childproof our homes and install safety gadgets like baby gates, outlet covers, and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. We wear seatbelts in the car and always make sure our passengers buckle up. I thought my family was prepared and well-protected. Then as part of National Preparedness Month, I read the 50 percent statistic and realized we didn’t have an emergency plan.
What would we do if a severe storm caused us to lose electricity for several days? What would we eat? Would we have enough to drink? What else did my family need to be prepared? Every family has its own needs. Some of us have children, pets or are caring for someone with special medical needs. My plan two years ago would be quite different than my plan today.
Part of being prepared is making these plans ahead of time. Life is bound to throw us a few unfortunate curve-balls. No one likes to think about them, but it’s our responsibility to do so, not just for ourselves, but for those who depend on us. It’s far easier to keep your cool if you have plans and an emergency kit on hand than to try to come up with them on the fly.
In this particular instance, I knew the basics of what to do. But I had never actually sat down and organized “the plan” for my family. September is National Preparedness Month. I use this time as my reminder to re-evaluate my plan, update critical information and make sure my loved ones do the same.
Don’t have a plan? Now is the perfect time to get organized.
Do you have a place to meet if you and your family members get separated?
Do you have an emergency kit?
Does everyone in your family know who they’d contact and where to go in an emergency? What if you aren’t at home?
The resources from the Federal Emergency Management Agency at ready.gov will help you make your emergency plans. There are materials for the whole family.
Let’s not forget about the kids. It’s just as important for them to know what to do so that they can stay calm in an emergency situation: ready.gov/kids
This blog post is my reminder to you. If you don’t have a plan, create one. If you already have one, make sure it still suits your family and meets your particular needs. And always remember, it’s important to stay safe.