Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mrs. Linklater Gets Off Her Butt

Some people enjoy gardening, others play golf, still more find pleasure in going for walks. I prefer missions. And not just because I like men in uniform.

The other night my electricity went out for six hours. Nothing new. The electricity goes out regularly in my neighborhood. Many times a year. But after thirty years of outage after outage, it has finally started to get old.

Ironically, but not unexpectedly, there was no wind at the time and the sky was full of stars. A couple of things came to mind: I wondered if the outage was just a preemptive strike to take our power and give it to someone else, since the it shut off so quickly and thoroughly like a switch was flipped. Usually, during a storm, the light flickers a bit and then crashes. Or, now that we have so many McMansions replacing the little houses, will the neigbhorhood simply max out more often?

Since I couldn't watch Law and Order any more, I took a drive around my town to see if there were any other areas affected. I've done this several times before, whenever our lights are out. And I have noticed every other time that almost no other neighborhood but mine seems to be affected.

This time I found one other small area with a power outage about a mile away from us. In my search, I also noticed there were two random stoplights without power, which I couldn't figure out, since nothing else around them was affected.

i grew up in the town across the highway, by the lake, and I can count on one finger the number of times the electricity went out over there. Since moving over here after my divorce, the electricity goes out long enough to ruin all your food a minimum of four times a year, not counting all the little brownouts that leave your digital clocks flashing and your computers reverting back to day one.

Commonwealth Edison, an Exelon Company [they don't say one without the other], is our power monger. Years ago when the power outages had become a Chicago joke, they sent a bunch of retired execs around the metro area to bullshit their way through village meetings, trying to blame the blackouts on tree branches and a host of other natural occurrences.

Turns out their infrastructure was in dire need of repair and hadn't been updated in years.  A bunch of ComEd heads rolled and things seemed to get better -- which, in my case, meant the power outages didn't last as long. But around here, they still keep happening. Storms or no storms. And the outages are getting longer again.

Yesterday I read an article that said ComEd still has a bullshit factor. One town just north of me is suing them for failing to provide reliable service.  Another one just south of me made ComEd come explain to its citizens what areas were affected most  and then follow it up with how and when they're going to fix things.

What I found interesting is that there is a list of the top outage areas. The list is called the "one percent."

The first I've heard of this.

ComEd points with pride to the one percent part. Yes, that's a low percentage in the big picture, but there's a catch. The one percent problem occurs in the same places all the time. It's not like the outages take turns. They're always in the same areas.
The town I lived in when I was married got a high rating for reliability according to ComEd, because they only had one neighborhood circuit with problems. But that one neighborhood circuit has lost power FOURTEEN times this year alone.

My village manager was quoted in the article as saying our town has a good relationship with ComEd. But the writer of the article then pointed out that we have FOUR neighborhood circuits listed in the top one percent of multiple outages.

Too bad the village manager doesn't feel obligated to have a good relationship with the people who pay his salary.

The name of the guy who is in charge of our town's Utility Management was mentioned in the article. So I called him at noon thirty today. He didn't answer. I left a message. He hasn't called back.

Yoohoo, I would like to know whether my house is in a high outage area, please. If he doesn't call me back and give me a straight answer, I will set something in motion. First to find out for sure whether we're in the top one percent. Second to get it fixed.

I don't think people around me realize that ComEd has ignored our outage plight for years. Our village has such a good relationship with ComEd I'm sure they had no plans to ever fix our problem.

In fact, after refusing for years to reveal where the problems were, ComEd was forced to tell by the town next door. ComEd used to say they couldn't reveal that information because homeland security could be compromised. But it's not the little grids they have to worry about, it's the big ones, so give it up electric boys.

Because they were unmasked, ComEd had to spend money to start fixing the power problems in that town. It has cost them 1.59 million  so far to add extrapower. They need to do the same in my town.

Too bad I can't do a rage against the machine on my own. I have to find a family with small children to front the movement. No way anyone's going to listen to me alone. But I'm happy to start the ball rolling by getting everybody pissed off that ComEd has been messing with us.

Yep, this is going to be fun.

I wonder what I should wear when I go door to door to show everybody, except the new neighbors, the information I've found?


salemslot9 said...

we're usually one of the lucky ones
touch wood
but, last Friday
our power went out
it was pretty windy
90 degrees and no air conditioning
told my John to pick up some ice
on the way home from work
for the refrigerator
we got a room at a local motel
checked DTE phone message thingy
later that evening
said everything was fixed

redsneakz said...

Depends whether you want to look like Determined Suburban Matron or Erin Brokovich A Few Years Later.  Either way, a killer smile and determined appearances at each town council meeting should do the trick.

For a while.

suzypwr said...

Dress like you do at home. You will surely get someone's attention!