The ABCs of Power Outages for Business Customers

SCE ‘school’ explains the whys and hows of power outages and what the utility is doing to get the lights back on faster.

  • By Mary Ann Milbourn
  • September 24, 2015

Power outages can, at best, be an inconvenience for businesses.

And, for most utility customers, the only question is: “When are the lights going to come back on?”

That was what Frances Amati wanted to learn when she attended a recent Southern California Edison Outage School for business customers.

“I wanted to have as much information as I could to be well informed so I can pass it along to my 60 tenants,” said Amati, who manages a building in downtown Long Beach for Ensemble Real Estate Services.

Over the past few years, SCE has been implementing a series of changes to help minimize the impact of outages on businesses and to improve communications with customers, said Mike Bushey, director of the Strategic Government, Institutions and Agriculture segment of SCE’s Business Customer Division.

“Power outages have a significant impact on our customers whether it’s because of an emergency or maintenance,” Bushey said. “We want our customers to better understand how we manage outages and we want to understand how to serve them better to strengthen customer confidence and satisfaction.”

To better support business customers during outages, an outage management and communications team is tasked just to work with businesses. Business owners who have questions about maintenance or other outages can reach the team at 855-683-9067 24/7 or by email at scepoc@sce.com.

Business and residential customers can also learn more about outages by visiting the online SCE outage center, where customers can report an outage or look at the outage map for information about outages in their area. If it’s an unexpected outage, they can report it to SCE customer service by calling 1-800-611-1911 or by using the mobile app or going online.

Steve Fabarez, facilities maintenance supervisor for the Long Beach Water Department, said the dedicated outage management and communications contact information will prove invaluable.

“Whenever there’s an outage, I’m the person everyone calls,” he said. 

Fabarez said having details about where the outage is and how long it may last will help him better manage the two properties he oversees, including the city’s sewage treatment plant.

Project Manager Tomaso Giannelli said the company has worked hard to lessen the impact of maintenance outages, which are scheduled in advance. Customers are notified by mail about 12 days before the outage. They can also now designate if they want to be notified by email or text.

Giannelli said improving communications about maintenance outages is particularly important now because SCE has more than doubled the number of maintenance outages to about 36,000 this year as it works to improve the system.

Here's a few outage safety tips for businesses:

  • Have flashlights readily available throughout your workplace.
  • Use surge protectors with electronic equipment, such as computers and frequently back up your important files.
  • Learn how to open automatic doors/gates manually (without power)
  • When your power is out or will be out for a maintenance outage, notify any security companies that monitor your work locations.
  • Using a backup source of power can keep your business up and running during an outage, but generators can be dangerous if they are not properly connected or operated. If you use a backup generator, you are required to register the information with SCE.
  • Elevators will automatically stop when the power goes out. Notify emergency personnel.
  • If you see a downed power line, do not approach it. Call 911.
  • Check perishable food after an outage. Perishable food should not be held above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours. For more information on food safety, visit foodsafety.gov.

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