The Los Alamos County Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has added a page to its web site to better inform customers about power outages. It can be found at ladpu.com/blackout.
Customers who have lived in Los Alamos for many years may recall a time when DPU recorded the address of every customer who called to say the power was out. This information was necessary to help the Electric Distribution Division crews understand the magnitude and specific location of each power outage so they could then try to pinpoint the source of the problem. Times have changed though.
When the power goes out now, DPU staff can log into the automated metering system and see the precise location of each meter that isn’t receiving electricity from the grid. Customer calls are still welcome in the first few minutes but unnecessary after that. The new web page is there to remind customers when and which numbers to call. While the calls are answered by Customer Care Center staff on weekdays, the Los Alamos Police Dispatch staff handles power outage calls outside of regular business hours. If customers aren’t sure which number to call, they should start with 505-662-8333.
“Our staff juggles many tasks every day so the first several power outage calls are useful in drawing our attention to an unexpected problem,” Deputy Utility Manager Heather Garcia said. “Once our Customer Care representatives are aware that customers are without power, they prompt the electric crews, engineers, and public information folks to stop what they’re doing and redirect their efforts to getting the power back on.”
When problems with the electric grid occur outside of the 8-to-5 timeframe, police dispatchers can be so bogged down by power outage calls that true emergency calls might not get through.
“With our new metering infrastructure, we hope to relieve the dispatchers of some of the additional burden they accept on our behalf,” Utility Manager Philo Shelton said. “We are also working on methods to notify customers when outages are widespread because we understand that so much of their daily lives are tied into having reliable electricity.”
Customers on social media can check the DPU Facebook page and Twitter feed for updates as they become available. Links to both sites are on the DPU Power Outage web page (ladpu.com/blackout).