“Don’t Wait, Activate!” Campaign Kicks Into High Gear Leveraging Text Messaging for Real-Time Communications
GIG HARBOR, WA and SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, CA–(Marketwired – Sep 30, 2014) – TextPower, a leader in innovative text messaging software solutions, today announced that Peninsula Light Company is successfully using TextPower SmartAlerts™ to quickly and easily leverage real-time communications directly with utility members during extreme weather situations and power outages.
“Our services have evolved over the years and we’ve done a tremendous amount of integration to take advantage of the latest technical advances. Partners like TextPower keep us at the forefront of the industry and enable us to provide our members with easy to use communications that deliver significant savings in both costs and human resources,” said Jonathan White, Director of Marketing & Member Services, Peninsula Light Co.
The Peninsula Light Co. system allows members to manage their accounts, make payments, report outages, and receive instant information about outages. Caller IDs are matched to accounts by the system, saving time and streamlining the process by tracking the address, meter number and identifying the supporting substation. The system is refreshed with updated information every day.
Members can report outages by phone or text once their account is are activated. During an outage the member’s phone number is stored so the utility knows who is calling or texting. It provides the location of the outage, helping crews to respond faster. Members simply text the word “out” and the system sends a message back to verify there is an outage at that location.
“Today, texting is a major added value to Peninsula Light’s outage reporting system, giving it more versatility by providing consumers the ability to use their mobile phones for real-time communications,” said Mark Nielsen, Executive Chairman and co-founder of TextPower.
“With SmartAlerts, users are able to activate by phone or text in less than a minute, providing all of the necessary information Peninsula Light would need to immediately alert their customers when facing a situation that could result in power failure,” Nielsen added.
The program was rolled out about a year ago and currently supports close to 2,000 members. Peninsula Light Co. deploys the Milsoft outage reporting system, and also works with the Cooperative Response Center, an after-hours call and dispatch center. TextPower integrates with both platforms.
While the area has a generally mild climate, White explained they do experience major ice and wind storms every few years. The utility serves two peninsulas and the Fox, Heron and Raft Islands. The only source of transmission to the peninsulas is a phone line originally installed in 1924 — the longest span of transmission line at that time.
“When we lose the line, we lose everything including communications to all 8 substations. Everything from storms to large birds to logging trucks have damaged the line, not to mention occasional equipment failure itself. Our goal is to move completely to text technology,” said White.
Previously the utility would have to bring in 12 to 16 members of the call center staff to answer the phones 24/7 until a storm was over. Regular dispatch was available during business hours Monday through Friday and the outage reporting system would simply be shut down after 4:30 pm.
Clearly they needed a better system to support the community with real-time communications. Working with TextPower and Milsoft, Peninsula Light Co. developed a notification system that would text information to the support team’s smartphones, use Google Maps to identify locations, and be managed through MS Outlook. The utility wrote their own outbound communications protocol and after a day spent writing the code, the real-time communications system was self-managed, freeing staff for other responsibilities.
“We were the first utility in the US to write code for the outbound notification as it came into the reporting system. We were also the first utility to use TextPower texting with Milsoft — we proudly were successful beta testers for the very first integration and the ROI was already demonstrated before we even implemented texting,” said White.
“Eventually we will even move our own telecom system, including the outage reporting system, to the cloud for even greater cost savings and will also provide greater phone capacity for those who do call in,” he said.
Peninsula Light Co. is a member owned electric cooperative located in Gig Harbor, WA. Since 1925, the utility has been serving the Gig Harbor and Key Peninsulas, and Fox Island in Western Pierce County. PenLight is a “full requirements utility” of the Bonneville Power Administration. The utility has grown to be the second largest cooperative in the Northwest, serving over 31,000 meters with 977 miles of line and 112 square miles of service territory. The company also provides service to 3,230 water consumers.
About TextPower, Inc.
TextPower, Inc. provides alerting and authentication solutions to a variety of industries worldwide using text messaging (SMS). The company’s software and text messaging services help companies enhance their revenues, decrease costs and improve customer service. TextPower’s authentication product, TextKey™, replaces the token or security fob previously needed to verify the identity of online users for password-protected applications. TextPower’s mission-critical infrastructure employs geo-redundancy for the industry’s highest reliability, providing delivery to virtually every cell phone in the United States and connections to most recognized wireless operators around the world. Visit http://www.TextPower.com, email Info@TextPower.com or call 888.818.1808 for more information.