Dominion Power is trying to make sure it’s prepared for the summer hurricane season, so on Wednesday the company held a storm drill.
Employees role played that a category three hurricane was barreling down on the Virginia coast and extending up into Northern Virginia, gathering in a conference room at the Herndon office to work out the scenario as they would in a real storm. Dominion also brought out its mobile command center.
Deborah Johnson, Dominion’s senior manager of state, regional and local affairs, said that during storms the company tries to stay keyed in on what’s important to relay to area media and customer to keep them informed.
For example, if a storm is going to hit and impact weekdays the company wants to be able to focus on schools if they have to close due to power outages. She said they want the media to be able to deliver important messages, such as when the schools reopen.
“We come to work with our A-game,” Johnson said. “It’s our goal to be the best in the industry.”
Phillip Sandino, Dominion’s director of customer solutions, said the website, Dom.com, has a lot of safety information on topics such as generators. He said often when storms hit, people go purchase generators, and Dominion wants them to know how to safely operate them.
Sandino said the company works closely with county Emergency Operations Center offices to make sure they communicate through emergencies. They periodically contact each other to make sure they have the correct phone numbers and contact information to stay connected, he said.
Dominion’s priorities when it comes to restoring services start with the transmission line and infrastructure. Having a transmission line go down can impact up to 10,000 customers, Sandino said.
Then the power company works to restore substations, which impact 6,000 people, main circuits, impacting roughly 1,500 people, then residential lines, individual transformers and services.
Sandino said it’s important that when the power is out customers call in to let them know their power is out. He said they can then triangulate where the outage is and respond to it. Dominion has no record of the outage if the customer hasn’t called, he said.
When customers call Dominion, 1-866-DOM-HELP, they may speak to a customer call agent or the automated service. Customers can also elect to receive a call back once their power is supposed to be restored so Dominion can check back in with them.
Sandino said after a storm the first thing they do is send out crews to survey damage. These first crews don’t do repairs, but report back to Dominion how extensive the repairs will be so the company can send out the correct equipment, he said.
Lynn Chaffin Jr., director of new media and communications planning for Dominion, said the company tries to be as social media and mobile friendly as possible. He said that during storms, after people’s laptop batteries die they are still able to check their phones, so it’s important to keep the public updated on social media.
He said Dominion has Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts where customers and the media can receive updates, and when the media continues to spread that information more customers can be kept in the loop.
For more information about storm tips and preparedness, or to learn more about how to stay in touch with Dominion during storms and hurricanes, visit the Dominion Storm Center.
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