Power companies ready for storm season

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SPANISH FORT, Alabama — Just days after the start of the 2021 Hurricane Season, officials with the three major power companies serving Baldwin County said they are ready should another major storm hit the area.

“We hope that it doesn’t happen, but if it does, we are ready for it,” said Mark Ingram, vice president of Corporate Services and Public Relations with Baldwin EMC.

Ingram, Beth Thomas, area affairs manager with Alabama Power, and Miles McDaniel, manager of public affairs with Riviera Utilities, hosted a media appreciation lunch on Friday, June 4 at Felix’s Fish Camp Restaurant on the Causeway in Spanish Fort.

Alabama Power, a subsidiary of the Southern Company, serves 1.5 million statewide, including customers in the Bay Minette area of Baldwin County.

At the start of this year’s hurricane season on June 1, the company launched new tools to keep customers informed, especially during storms, Thomas said.

Customers can access an online outage map at outagemap.alabamapower.com and can search by county, ZIP code, city or municipality, and use the company’s live weather radar feature.

Customers can also sign up for outage alerts by texting “Enroll” to APCOUT (272688) using a cellphone registered to their Alabama Power account or visiting alabamapower.com/alerts.

“We are encouraging all of our customers to go online and sign up now,” Thomas said.

Customers can report outages by texting “Out” to the same number or text “Status” to check on repair status.

Customers can also visit alabamapower.com/storm to find out why their power is out and steps the company takes to get back on safely and quickly.

Alabama Power also has a mobile app for Apple and Android devices.

Both Riviera Utilities, which services customers in the Foley and Daphne areas of Baldwin County, and Baldwin EMC, which services customers in unincorporated areas throughout Baldwin County, have mobile alert and online systems in place.

“We are currently in the process of upgrading our system,” Ingram said, “and are hoping to have improved services coming in the near future.”

All three companies reported that they are 100 percent up and running after extensive damage caused by hurricane’s Sally and Zeta in 2020. Ingram said Baldwin EMC is currently working to increase the efficiency of its system.

“Are we at 100 percent in terms of all of our customers being back online? Yes,” he said. “But are we where we need to be in terms of the efficiency of the system? We are not but we are working to improve the efficiency of the system and are hoping to launch an upgraded system in the near future.”

The three representatives said they have been meeting together since last year’s hurricane season to improve the efficiency of their systems and how they respond to disasters.

“It had been 16 years since we had a major hurricane directly hit the Alabama Gulf Coast and we learned very quickly that we needed to make improvements in every area of our response,” Ingram said.

The three representatives also addressed concerns of cybersecurity and forecasting systems.

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