Houston – Sept. 29, 2008 – In just over two weeks following Hurricane Ike, CenterPoint Energy has restored power to over 2 million customers (94 percent with power) and has finished the major restoration of its electric system including the transmission, substation and distribution infrastructure. As projected, the company is on target to have all customers restored within the two-to-three week timeframe. Most remaining outages are the result of isolated damaged transformers or service drops. The company expects to have power restored to remaining homes and businesses capable of receiving service this week.
“We realize this has been a very difficult and exhausting process for our customers who are still without power,” said Kenny Mercado, senior vice president of Electric Operations. “But as we begin the final phase of this complex restoration effort, I want to assure customers that we continue to utilize a full complement of resources to restore service to the remaining customers. We know that the job isn’t finished, and we won’t stop until everyone’s power is back on.”
The company has had as many as 9,000 mutual assistance linemen and tree trimmers from other parts of the country, alongside the company’s 3,000 skilled workers, to restore electric service to 2.15 million customers impacted by Hurricane Ike.
“While our overall electric infrastructure held up extremely well, the 110 mile-per-hour winds produced by Ike mowed down 50-foot-tall trees and caused massive damage to electric wires,” continued Mercado. “In two weeks, we reinstalled tens of thousands of feet of power lines that took us decades to build. I’m proud of the work and commitment that 12,000 workers have invested to get electric service restored and help our neighbors get their lives back to normal. It has been a challenge for both our customers and our employees.”
Steps Customers Can Take to Help
Help the company identify isolated pockets of outages
Call customer service at 713.207.2222 to report an outage. Turn your porch light on, even before power is restored to help crews quickly identify if your service is back on without knocking on your door. Customers also need to make the necessary preparations to ensure their equipment is ready to receive electricity as noted below.
Respond to electric service verification call
As we complete this last phase of the restoration process, customers may receive a call from the company or an automated telephone call to verify whether your power has been restored.
Check your breaker box
Before calling customer service, check your main circuit breaker box and confirm that the main switch is in the “on” position.
Protect your sensitive equipment and air conditioning units
Before power is restored unplug all sensitive equipment, such as computers and plasma screen televisions, and turn off your air conditioner. When power is restored to a large number of customers at once, large appliances can cause a short-term power surge, which may damage electrical appliances. Leave one light on. Once electric service is restored, plug in small appliances, then large appliances and finally turn on your air conditioning.
Inspect your electric meter
CenterPoint Energy will make repairs to the electric delivery system up to the point where it connects to a home or business and will remove meter locks for customers who require an electrician to repair customer meter loops. However, the customer is responsible for repairs if there is damage to the meter enclosure or weatherhead – the point where the line enters the home through a pipe. If the meter enclosure or weatherhead is damaged, our crews will not be able to re-establish service. If in doubt, homeowners should contact a licensed electrician to inspect and make any necessary repairs.
Stay away from downed or low-hanging power lines and treat them as if they’re energized. Do not run generators in homes or in garages. Place portable generators in a well-ventilated area. Gasoline-powered generators produce carbon monoxide and the fumes can be deadly.
Call before you dig
Digging into buried utility lines can cause serious injury or death. Before digging or reinstalling fences during clean-up, customers need to request that underground utility lines are marked. For your safety, you are required by law to call 811. This service will connect you with the state one call center, which alerts participating utility companies such as electric, gas, cable and phone about the planned digging so they can mark the appropriate location of their underground lines if necessary. Please be prepared for a longer than usual wait time during the next few weeks and do not dig until the lines have been marked.