The Overton Power District #5 has found yet another way to get vital information to its customers. A new Emergency Alert System will send a text message to customers giving the most current information about power outages, should they occur, and what is being done by district personnel to restore service. All customers must do to be included in the new notification system is to update their OPD account records with their current cell phone number.
“It’s a great way for us to pass on vital information to our customers,” said OPD spokesman Keith Buchhalter of the new system. “If there is an outage in your area, you can be fully informed and there is nothing that you will have to do.”
In recent years the district has made significant strides in providing better outage information to its customers. It has set up a new phone answering service to handle the high volume of customer calls that occur during an outage. If district phone lines are overwhelmed, the calls are now routed to that service to answer customer questions. OPD has also beefed up its social media presence, posting regular info about outages and other issues on sites like Facebook or Twitter.
But Buchhalter acknowledged that even these new methods still leave out a large segment of customers. “Many people don’t like using social media,” Buchhalter said. “And it can be a hassle to get through on a phone line when the power is out. So we decided to go with this system which requires almost no effort from our customers.”
The new system uses a specialized software called Everbridge. This software allows for remarkable versatility in getting in touch with OPD customers. It can either send a message to everyone in the system in case of a major outage, or it can notify as few as one or two customers if it is a more localized outage.
In order for customers to benefit from the new text message notification system, the OPD must have a valid cell phone number for each account where the messages may be sent.
Buchhalter assured that the new system is completely secure and not at all invasive. “We take the security of our customers’ information very seriously,” he said. “The district is the only one to have access to it.”
What’s more, the cell phone numbers will never be used for marketing or to send out any other kinds of information. Only information about outages or other emergencies will be sent through the system.
“It is very straight-forward,” Buchhalter said. “It is just to keep customers informed. It doesn’t cost anything. We just have your cell phone number on file to keep you updated.”
To update cell phone information, customers can call the OPD at 702-397-2512 in Overton, or 702-346-5710 in Mesquite. Customers can also update their information online by going to opd5.com and clicking on “Account Login”.