US electricity and gas distributor CenterPoint Energy has added a new tool to its engagement program with a service alerting customers when a power outage is detected close to their address.
The Power Alert Service works by automatically notifying consumers via SMS text, e-mail or phone call whenever a power outage or other power problem is detected at or near their address.
The service includes estimates of when power will be restored, when the problem was resolved and what caused the outage.
Smart grid investment
CenterPoint Energy says the addition to its outage communication system has been made by recent investments in smart grid technologies, according to Kenny Mercado, senior vice president of Electric Operations for CenterPoint Energy.
Mr Mercado said: "CenterPoint Energy is making strategic investments in technologies that use real-time smart meter and intelligent grid data to increase operational efficiency, enhance customer satisfaction and transform the way we communicate with customers about outages.
"These technologies provide us with faster, more accurate information on outage types and locations, helping us dispatch the right crew with the right equipment to restore power more efficiently; this ultimately reduces outage durations and improves electric reliability."
Customers can sign up for the service by changing their notification preferences.
Commenting on how customers in its service territory will respond to the service, Gregg Knight, senior vice president and chief customer officer for CenterPoint Energy, said: "We know that when the power goes out, customers want to know two things: 1) Does CenterPoint Energy know that my power is out? and, 2) When will my power come back on?.
"With our Power Alert Service, we can now provide customers the information they need and the peace of mind that our crews are working on the problem."
Knight added that proactively communicating with consumers will reduce the need for them to call to report their outages, thus benefiting both retail electric providers and CenterPoint Energy.