PG&E Performance Survey


Posted by Annie in Opinion, Outdoors on November 26, 2010

Shortly before our power was restored last night. PG&E called with an automated survey to find out how we felt they handled the recent outage. Our power came back on minutes after their survey call, which was interesting timing to be sure.

Electrical Repairs

I’d like to look at this outage a little closer, perhaps PG&E is serious about providing better customer service, so I will take this opportunity to give my opinion on the chance that someone might read it and care.

For starters people who live in this area know that we are prone to power outages, especially during the winter months. Most of us are somewhat prepared but just as PG&E’s performance has room for improvement, many Twain Harte residents can do better as well.

When our power first went out, we took it in stride, fully expecting the power to be out for a few hours or perhaps even a day or so, which is normal for our area. We sat around the house and played Legos, snacked and basically enjoyed spending some quality family time.

We especially appreciated PG&E’s extended outage number. Even though the PG&E customer service folks didn’t have a great deal of information available to them, it was comforting knowing that a real live person was just a phone call away. I was able to get right through on their extended outage line every time I called, except once. (I believe I called about ten times, normally twice a day.)

After several days, I discovered the online PG&E Outage Map. It would have been helpful to know about that page sooner, as it did provide a little additional information. Another day later, I had the sense to ask the customer service representative what our “Outage Number” was. I also found that information helpful and I wish I had had that little detail earlier.

I was calling to find out how long we could expect to be without electricity, so that I could plan ahead a little. We no longer have a local gas station, so we needed to plan how large of a generator we would need and make plans to keep it fueled. I needed to be able to plan for meals — like Thanksgiving.

My husband worked on a Forest Service software project years ago. PG&E could learn a few things from the Forest Service.

You see, what PG&E wasn’t telling us is that their crews were spread very thin. Many areas could have been restored earlier (in my opinion) had PG&E had enough manpower to even locate the source of the problems. I notice that once the PG&E trucks arrived in our area, the problem was repaired within hours.

I heard a couple of rumors that disturbed me. One was that some of the outages were not repaired earlier because they couldn’t find the downed lines and another was that they had to order parts before they could fix the problem. Now, I’ve done a little wiring myself, so I can’t imagine them not having the parts they need on hand for an emergency. Even if it was a circuit board issue. Having worked as a gas station manager for many years, I know we have emergency repair people for something as obscure as that.

When a fire breaks out, the Forest Service contracts with local vendors for tools, instead of carting around axes, shovels, hammers and such. Why doesn’t PG&E contract with local electrical contractors to help pick up the slack in an emergency? The locals would be familiar with the area and able to round up parts locally, in a short amount of time.

It would also be helpful if the website contained more details. Our power was back on before the website even listed crews as being onsite. Once PG&E’s automated system even called to tell us our power was back on, when in fact it wasn’t. Afterwards, I checked their website and they listed our outage as beginning at the exact time I had called to notify them that our power was not restored.

This caused even more stress because I had no way of knowing if we were getting pushed to the bottom of the list, because PG&E didn’t know that our power had been out for days.

I was also frustrated when two of their representatives informed me that they were “working on the problem,” when in fact, they had not even arrived onsite and wouldn’t for two more days. It is not nice to lie to the people who are paying your salaries.

Electrical outages can be expected, but how we respond to the challenge makes all the difference in the world.

Our family is in the process of evaluating our own emergency procedures. We are picking up items that will make our life easier because we know that this is just the beginning of this winter season with possibly more wicked winter storms on the way. Being prepared can make all the difference in reducing stress levels and weathering a storm with ease.

If you don’t have an emergency plan, don’t wait. Make sure everyone knows his or her job and you know where your supplies are stored. I know our next winter storm, we will be better prepared. We did a pretty good job this time around but there is still room for improvement. How did your family manage through the storm?

Tags: , , ,

Power Restored!


Posted by Annie in Outdoors, Twain Harte News on November 25, 2010

I jumped for joy… It felt like my birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s day all rolled into one.

Highway 108

Yes, our power has finally been restored. I yelled and whooped and hollered for joy, then I scrubbed the toilet and started a load of laundry. PG&E crews have been out in droves for hours working on restoring power. Had I been able to cook a large dinner, I would have taken them some hot food.

While I love our new generator and it has been wonderful to at least have the bare essentials, I do not miss the loud drone of the motor that we have become accustomed to for the past 6-days.

I have the heater on next to me and I’m still wrapped up in two blankets. It was 45 degrees in my office this morning. The temperature is finally up to 61 and climbing. The heat feels incredible.

If you are considering making the trip up to Twain Harte and beyond anytime soon, please be aware that we are expecting more weather over the weekend. Highway 108 was clear and mostly dry all the way up to Mi Wuk and I know people aren’t have any trouble getting up to Dodge Ridge because some of the folks joined us for dinner at Diamond Jim’s.

While the main roads are clear and mostly dry, most other roads have not been cleared and many are still blocked by fallen trees. Crews are working to clear the downed trees but work is slow to progress.

They were working on clearing trees from Black Oak Drive and Tuolumne Drive late this afternoon. Chapel in the Pines had cancelled youth services last night because the road was impassable. It is unknown at this time whether Sunday services will be held or not.

According to PG&E’s Outage Map there are still 14 outages (down from 39, the last time I checked) in the Twain Harte area, affecting 500-4,999 customers.

Those who experienced a power outage for 48-hours or longer may be eligible for compensation.

STORMS MESSAGE: If you are a residential customer and have gone without power for at least 48 hours due to severe storm conditions, you may qualify for a payment under PG&E’s Safety Net Program. This program provides for the automatic payment of $25-$100, which is paid about 60 days following the storm outage.

To find out more visit: Compensation for Extended Outages, it’s not much but every little bit helps.

That’s it for now folks! Stay Warm!

Tags: , ,

Thanksgiving Update


Posted by Annie in Restaurants, Twain Harte News on November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

I have good news and bad news. The bad news is, of course, the power outage continues. The good news is, we have four or five PG&E crews working just blocks from the house, one crew is actually behind the house working.

We skipped the grilled fish dinner I had planned and opted instead for a wonderful buffet spread hosted by Diamond Jim’s restaurant in Mi-Wuk  – and we weren’t alone. The ham with raisin rum sauce was delicious. We met people who came from Groveland and another group of people who were taking advantage of the early ski season at Dodge Ridge.

On another note: I do have a little more good news. After 6 or 7 days without cell service, our cell phones finally work. They came back online sometime before 3-4:00 p.m. today.

I’ll be posting some pictures soon. You wouldn’t believe how much snow has fallen in Sugar Pine and Mi Wuk. It must have been pretty ugly up that way before the plows and the sunshine came through. All in all, it’s a beautiful day, in spite of the cold weather. It’s 37 degrees at the house right now — outside.  Inside, well, my office is a balmy 58 degrees, but this morning it was 45, I decided to skip the update until now. I’m sure you can relate.

Stay warm folks!

Tags: , ,