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Customers Expect More Than Electricity From Power Company

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RALEIGH — Carolina Power and Lightworkers spend a lot of time training for weather-related disasters. But, some customers wonder if the power company should do even more.

CP&L has a massive workforce ready to restore your electricity. Few customers will dispute that. But some have said they wish the company would do a better job taking calls about power outages.

CP&L is well-known among power companies for the way it trains workers to handle the loss of major transmission lines.

"You could have a tornado in your control area, and it can cause part of your system to black out. It's very important, in order to keep those transmission maintenance people safe and in order to make the customer outage time as short as possible, for them to know these system restoration principles," said senior engineer Sammy Roberts.

But, some CP&L customers wish the company would spend more time handling their calls when severe weather strikes.

In Wake County, Johnnie Johnson says she called CP&L about a power outage more than a half dozen times during theChristmas ice storm.

"We kept calling and calling and got no answer. I called a couple of my neighbors, and they were having the same experience. They were getting a recorded message too," said Johnson.

CP&L admits it came up short during the ice storm but says that was an exception to the rule because so many of its people were out of town.

"We had a challenge getting them back in here as quickly as we needed to in order to answer the phones. Therefore, for the first 24 hours of the storm, it was a challenge. We have learned from that," said Tucker Mann, customer service center director.

CP&L's new procedure before any holiday includes having a master list of where it can reach any vacationing customer service representatives.

The company's customer service center has a capacity of close to 300 phone lines, and during a storm, it can handle up to 5,000 calls an hour.

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Len Besthoff, Reporter
Gil Hollingsworth, Photographer
John Clark, Web Editor

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