VERIFY: Has Duke lost track of where power is out?

Incorrect phone messages about power statuses has customers concerned that the utility can't keep track of outages.

Residents on 8th Avenue in Gulfport got a concerning call earlier this week.

"We're getting messages from Duke Energy either automated or from humans that say we don't show an outage in that area,” said Dana Clouser.

"The whole length of 8th Avenue South … there's a power line drooping through the trees and in the gutter."

The neighborhood has been without power since Hurricane Irma hit, and residents like Jason Steifman have been calling Duke Energy for days, and continue to hear the same response.

"Every time I check in with them they're stating I'm reporting it for the first time,” said Jason Steifman, another resident in the neighborhood.   

Many residents received calls from Duke Energy stating their power was restored when it was not. Some received calls saying they were the first in their area to report an outage when they were not.

Duke Energy claims it still has records of what locations are without power, and the false calls were the result of a technical glitch that forced the company to reset its automated system.

"We apologize our customers are receiving the information because of a technical malfunction, but we can assure you that we are aware of the outages in your area and we are working as quickly and as safely as possible to restore them,” said Peteeva Persuad, a spokesperson for Duke Energy.

10News headed to Duke Energy's dispatch center to verify these claims.

Dispatch Supervisor Steve Suarez pointed to the exact block on 8th Avenue where residents were told via automated call that they had power despite not having it for several days.

"That's 8th Avenue. These are the lines running behind 8th Avenue,” said Suarez. "What the customers are seeing is definitely not accurate. We have exactly what fuses are out … what transformers are out. We know everything that's going on out there."
  
Suarez says while the technical glitch did affect the external system that notifies customers when their power is on or off, it did not affect Duke Energy’s internal system that records areas still needing assistance. He believes the glitch came from the high number of calls pouring in.

“The system has never seen this volume of calls. Every single power feeder was affected,” he said.

Currently, 12,000 crews are working to restore power to the areas still affected, according to Suarez.

Despite the technical problems, the internal system is still able to show, down to the block, what areas still need restoring. After seeing the system first-hand, 10News can VERIFY that the claims made by Duke Energy are true.

To help with the influx of calls, Duke Energy is asking anyone wishing to report an outage or check on restoration progress to do so at https://news.duke-energy.com/irma.

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