What’s going on around here?
It seems like we’ve had our share of severe thunderstorms this year, with plenty of high winds and torrential rain. This week we even saw golf-ball-sized hail at the Wheaton Ice Rink. But something very different is happening. Is it just me, or have the utilities gotten more reliable this year?
As a self-employed consultant with a home-based office, I am particularly vulnerable to interruptions in those "little" things like electricity and Internet access. So I worry about these things a great deal and am acutely aware of the performance of our local utilities.
So what gives this summer? The lights have gone off exactly twice since May, and one of those was for less than five minutes. It was back on before I even finished shutting down my computers from their multiple battery back-up power supplies.
Then, finally, last Sunday night it happened. During the most severe storm yet, with high winds and lightning everywhere, the lights finally went out and stayed out for the first time. I was thinking: "Great, how many days am I going to lose this time?"
It was about 11 p.m. and I phoned Pepco’s automated outage reporting line. The recorded voice told me which buttons to press, verified my address, then gave me an estimated service restoration time: about 3:30 a.m. Monday morning. The process was simple, I was never placed on hold, got no busy signals, everything was smooth as silk. Still, I went to bed with a sense of foreboding, thinking about all the deadlines I had the following day that required access to documents on my computer and the ability to email.
About 12:30 that night I was awakened by blazing lights, the soft hum of our air conditioner, and a radio in one of the kids’ rooms as the power came back on. I smiled and was about to go back to sleep when I thought, maybe I should just check the Internet.
Sure enough, it was out. So I placed a call to Comcast, got a live person on the phone who did some checking and informed me that only mine and one other house was off-line, so it was not considered and "outage" (meaning I was a low priority). He said all their technicians were committed for the morning, but if they could reach one of their off-duty techs in time, maybe he could come in early before his shift started. No promises, though, until the afternoon. I started to get that old sinking feeling, but went to bed hoping for the best.
At 6 a.m. the sun was up, the coffee maker did its thing, I logged onto my computer and sure enough, to my amazement, up came the Internet. All was well. The Comcast truck was just leaving our neighborhood.
I don’t know if it was the tree trimming, or the bludgeoning the utilities took from the press, the public and our local elected officials, or some combination of all of the above, but some real progress has been made here. Thank you. Am I the only one who’s noticed?