On Power Outages

I want to toss out an idea for comment regarding power outages.  In the present storm, my power was restored within two days.  The  last time in August/September 2o11, it took almost seven days.

When large disasters occur, utilities bid for the services of power crews that are out of the area.  There should be some incentive to make them bid aggressively for additional power crews.

Here is my incentive:

  • Those not restored in 3 full days get one month of free electricity.
  • Those not restored in 5 full days get three months of free electricity.
  • Those not restored in 7 full days get one year of free electricity.

The idea is threefold:

  • The utilities pay in their own product, thus softening the blow on them.
  • As time progresses, the costs/inconveniences mount for those without power; this gives companies an incentive to bid for power crews, because the longer people are without power, the greater the future revenue loss.
  • The results of the penalty get delivered to those most inconvenienced, and in a way that is fitting — you might even have some people smiling as they sit in the dark, knowing that their reward builds exponentially as they wait.

I like this idea, because it is a minimalist way of giving incentives to the utilities to restore service.  In both this disaster and the one last August/September, my local utility said, “We are doing all that we can.”  Nonsense.  Other utilities were more aggressive in bidding for power crews.

Comments are welcome.  This idea is just a rough stab, but I think it would go a long way toward restoring equity to those that are most inconvenienced be power outages.

PS — As an aside, as the internet has become more important in the lives of people, and even more the mobile internet, it is fascinating to watch how people seek out opportunities to charge up or log in as the crisis progresses, much as they would seek out ice, nonperishable food, and other necessities as the crisis progresses.