flotsam, peeves

Powerless, for the moment (@PSEGdelivers)

This is going to sound like I’m mad at PSE&G for the power being out. I’m not. Sandy was an unprecedented storm and it did tremendous damage and my power issues are minor in the grand scheme. Plus I know that an unfathomable number of people are without power and that their crews are working around the clock to get things fixed.

But you know, when they are prioritizing repairs, after police, fire, hospitals, etc, they are fixing the areas that have the most people impacted.

That they know of.

Which makes a lot of sense. Good approach. I approve.


Except I know that utilities actually have far less ability to tell the extent of an outage than we, the laypeople, might think. That is why we have to report when the power goes out. Because they don’t “just know.”

And I know that people in apartments get a sort of groupthink in which everyone thinks someone else called. Seriously, I may well be the only person who ever reports to the complex when laundry facilities are non-functioning. I’ve tried to wait out three different sets of neighbors to see how long simple repairs would take to get reported, and eventually I caved in to report it myself. (Apparently everyone thinks that fairies just magically know about issues and fly in and repair stuff. With pixie dust, perhaps. Which if true, would mean a lot of time and money and effort is being wasted by having a call center and maintenance crews. )

That combination of factors leaves me (1) aware that I DO need to report stuff and (2) concerned that the electric company could conceivably think that I’m the only one without power here. I mean, I sort of doubt it, but it’s possible. Which would get me pretty much dead last on the list.

So I guess up to this point, it’s my neighbors who irk me. 😉

Now, let’s combine apartment-dweller apathy with poorly designed automated reporting systems, shall we?

So the power went out, and I called PSE&G to report it. (Because both the news and the apartment complex had indicated that was what they wanted us to do, so I had written down the number. Helpful, yes?)

I couldn’t call from my home number. That goes through my Internet (cough cough cable bundle) so no power, no phone. I called from my cell.

When I got thru to PSE&G, the recording started with something along the lines of, “We are aware of significant outages in your area.”

If I were a person of magic-pixies-fix-stuff ilk, I might have hung up right then. “They already know.”

Yeah. But I’m not buying it. If they already knew they wouldn’t ask us to call in the first place.

And good thing too, because 5 prompts later (after we’ve established that I’m not calling about a gas leak, don’t need Spanish prompts, am not calling from the number on my account, yes I want this new number added to the account for updates, and yes I would like to be kept up to date using this number, FINALLY I get to actually report the outage.

And THEN the recording tells me they aren’t aware of any other outages in my area. And remind me, in the verbal equivalent of a form letter, that they only repair issues outside the home. You know, in case it’s just me with an issue. And not my whole building… No, wait, the whole block… No, wait, flicker flicker, yeah, it’s all of us. Darkness as far as the eye can see. So to speak.

Should I be proud to be the first to report it? (No, not so much.)

So this is my very small point of irritation with my utility company… Don’t put a “we already know about issues in your area” message on your reporting line, if what you really mean is, “we have a lot of reports coming in from all over our service area.” One inspires people to hang up without reporting issues, the other helps them understand about call volume and anticipated time to repairs.

Oh and while I’m nitpicking (and I totally am), if you’re going to put information online, make sure it’s compatible with mobile browsers. Cuz chances are good, if people need the info, then their computers are not getting any juice.

Otherwise, I have to say to the good folks at PSE&G: good work and keep on keeping on. I look forward to electricity sometime in the next week or so. Or you know, sooner. If you can. I know you’re trying.


POINT OF CLARIFICATION: this site is not affiliated with PSE&G nor am I an employee of that or any other utility. My only relationship to the electric company is as a customer. I welcome your comments but please understand that if your comment is intended for your utility, they are extraordinarily unlikely to see it here.

5 thoughts on “Powerless, for the moment (@PSEGdelivers)”

  1. Hurry the f*** up and get me some power. I’m in south bound brook, going on almost 2 damn weeks. wtf. A family in South Orange is struggling.


    1. I’m so sorry you’re in that situation. I have friends in three different towns in central/northern and western NJ, all without power or heat. Two of them are served by JCP&L (I don’t know about the third, but the complaints I’m hearing anecdotally about JCP&L service makes me think that people should be allowed to choose/replace their utility company), but the fact is that regardless of who the power company is, when we don’t have power it is really difficult, and no matter how much evidence there is that they are in fact working to restore a lot of people we don’t feel better about it until we’re one of those people with power.

      It’s hard for me to believe that in this day and age we don’t have a better solution that stringing wires together to run town to town and house to house.

      I hope whoever your power company is, that they get the lights on for you soon. (Keep calling them – and have your neighbors keep call them too, if they haven’t already – to log address-specific “outage” tickets until you all get the answer you want… power restoration. I can’t stress this enough… unlike the cable companies who for broad outages seem to only have to know generally about an outage to get everyone fixed, the electric companies need to have individual reports for every single property that’s out in order to get everyone restored (and in order to properly prioritize their efforts).

      If you’re with JCP&L I don’t know what else to tell you. However, if you’re with PSE&G, I’ve noticed they are watching tweets to them (they don’t follow my blog, sorry) so if you tweet them photos of the downed lines/trees etc and tell them where it is from what I can tell they are responding to those. They clearly have a massive effort going on (parts of my town are still out too) but it’s apparent from the social media responses @PSEGdelivers that they’re making (slow but steady) progress and will get teams out there as soon as they can.


  2. Normally I don’t read post on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very compelled me to check out and do it! Your writing style has been amazed me. Thank you, quite nice article.


  3. I think what you are seeing may be a software issue, not a hardware issue.I’ve seen networking drop when using a powered hub with keyboard/mouse attached. Starting the GPM console mouse service or X Windows killed the networking.I used an oscilloscope to verify the voltages on my Pi were within spec the entire time.I eventually found a mouse that didn’t cause this issue…. The problem mouse was a Logitech and the “working” one is a $5 wired mouse from Monoprice.I documented my findings in [spam link removed], but have yet to receive any response from anyone officially involved with the Pi. A little annoyed at that given I spent quite a few hours troubleshooting, borrowing the oscilloscope, etc.Are you using a mouse?Can you boot your pi with no USB devices connected and use SSH to log into it and see if the networking stays up when you do that?


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