SCE&G uses social media to connect with customers during hirricane season

  • Thursday, June 13, 2013

With the start of the Atlantic hurricane season, SCE&G is reminding its customers to prepare now for the possibility of a hurricane impacting South Carolina.

This year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts an active Atlantic hurricane season with more and stronger hurricanes. SCE&G President of Retail Operations Keller Kissam said now is the time for customers to prepare. “Even if we don’t get a direct hit, depending on the size and scope of the storm, severe weather from a hurricane can impact South Carolina customers anytime between June 1 and Nov. 30,” he said.

History has shown that other than getting their lights on, the thing people want most from their utility during a lengthy power outage is communication. “People want information they can plan and act on,” said Kissam. He said more customers are turning to social media channels for information during emergencies, especially on mobile devices if they lose power. SCE&G has updated its social media channels for the 2013 storm season and wants customers to be aware of these channels:

TWITTER – www.twitter.com/scegnews

FACEBOOK – www.facebook.com/scegnews

FLICKR – www.flickr.com/scegnews

YOUTUBE – www.youtube.com/scegnews

Kissam cautioned that customers should not use social channels to report outages or share personal information, including their SCE&G account number or street address, but should monitor social channels for breaking news, outage reports and other important updates from the company. “We will use these social channels to share safety tips, outage numbers, photos and videos of crews working to restore power and other news and information, such as downed power lines to avoid and generator safety reminders,” he said.

Other important communications channels SCE&G customers can turn to include:

OUTAGE MAP - SCE&G updates its interactive outage map (http://www.sceg.com/en/storm-center/) about every 15 minutes.

MOBILE DEVICES - Customers can use mobile devices to report and check the status of outages at www.sceg.com/mobile.

TEXT MESSAGING - Residential electric customer or small/medium business commercial customers can report power outages and check their outage status via text messaging using a text-enabled cell phone/mobile device. Standard message and data rates apply. Customers must first register their cell phone number to their SCE&G account. Here’s how: http://www.sceg.com/en/storm-center/outage-text-messaging/default.htm.

TELEPHONE – SCE&G’s customer service department is staffed 24/7.

For non-emergency issues: 800-251-7234.

For power outages or to report downed/sparking power lines: 888-333-4465

To report gas leaks: 800-815-0083

Kissam said one of the most important ways SCE&G prepares for the potential impact of severe storms is by managing vegetation on its system throughout the year. “We have trimmed more than 19,700 miles of trees since 2007 to enhance the reliability of our electric system,” he said. The company also has approximately 400 permanent line personnel and 300 contract line personnel ready to respond to major storms or hurricanes. Additionally, SCE&G is a member of the Southeastern Electric Exchange’s mutual assistance, which can increase these numbers exponentially. 

One of the biggest challenges facing utilities in areas subject to hurricane activity is ensuring customers have realistic expectations about how long it may take to restore power to after a major storm or hurricane. “Recent history – Hurricanes Katrina, Irene, Sandy, etc. – suggests that the majority of customers can expect to be without power for 10-20 days, depending on the scope and severity of damage to the system,” he said. “Some may have power restored sooner, but for others, it could take longer.”

Kissam said SCE&G has a systematic process for restoring power after major storm. It begins with damage assessment immediately after the storm has passed. “During the first 48 hours or so, we do an initial assessment of damage to our transmission and distribution facilities,” said Kissam. “This is important to allow us to efficiently get crews and materials to the areas they’re most needed. As restoration work begins, there’s a more comprehensive, ongoing damage assessment that could last a week or more. The priority is to restore essential services, such as hospitals, fire and police departments, water treatment facilities, emergency response agencies, etc. Our goal is to restore the greatest numbers of customers in the shortest amount of time.”

More information on SCE&G’s restoration process is available at SCEG.com.

SCE&G is a regulated public utility engaged in the generation, transmission, distribution and sale of electricity to approximately 673,000 customers in South Carolina. The company also provides natural gas service to approximately 325,000 customers throughout the state.

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