Always Report Outages

February 11, 2016

Technology is amazing. Because of it, we have more data available to us than we’ve ever had before. However, access to data does not automatically equate to meaningful information. Knowledge, analysis and judgment are necessary to transform data into useful information.

At South Plains Electric Cooperative, we work with tremendous amounts of data, but we still need you to report outages, maintenance requests and power quality issues. You are the key to providing us with useful information.

You are on-site at your home or business and have firsthand knowledge about your specific issues. We monitor the entire system but are often unaware of individual, site-specific details. 

You are probably thinking: You read my meter remotely and send my bill monthly. Why do you, the co-op, not know when my power is off? 

There are plenty of situations in which the co-op might not receive data from a meter, or might receive a reading of zero without triggering a red flag. 
We read meters daily—and, yes, we might sometimes receive a zero reading. However, that zero reading does not necessarily mean the power is off. We provide seasonal service to many locations that turn power off at the breaker. Or maybe a member is doing some remodeling and temporarily cut power. For many meters, zero usage on any given day can be accurate.

Also, our meters are read through the power lines and transmitted to us at the office via various communication channels. We rely on the same phone and Internet service companies you do. Sometimes service is bad. Sometimes lines are down. Sometimes we have noise on the lines, and the data simply will not transmit. For these reasons, we do not always receive 100 percent of our metering data daily. 

Finally, the communication system in a meter can fail, or a meter can simply go dead. Meters are always exposed to the elements. As with any other appliance or device, a component may stop working. 

We do monitor the data we receive. We send service workers out to check potential issues, but it may take several weeks, given other priorities. If we went daily to every site or tried to contact every member with a zero reading to determine its validity, we would need a significantly bigger staff, and that would drive up all members’ costs. 

At South Plains Electric Cooperative, we are constantly balancing cost considerations with service expectations. We need your help to keep our service reliable and rates affordable, so make sure to inform us of outages and issues. By doing so, you fulfill your responsibility as a member and help us as we strive to improve service to you.