ConEd Asks You To Report Your Power Outages Online

Graham says:

I heard a Con Ed commercial today on the radio, in the NY area. Thankfully, you may now report that you have no electricity, online.

Ya know, for those times when you have no power, but your computer and internet access are not affected.

This should be sponsored by Starbucks, because that’s where you’re going to use it.

Report an Electric Service Problem/Check Status [ConEd]


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  1. elangomatt says:

    Hey, I would do this if I had a power outage. My cable modem remains active for a while on its own battery backup so I could go directly through the modem and get to the website to report an outage with my laptop. In addition, I actually have my wireless router on a battery backup too, so I wouldn’t even have to run a cable to the cable modem.

    But yeah, I guess for most people it is pretty useless.

  2. Rando says:

    Have you guys ever heard of laptops? Seeing as their popularity is ever increasing and seem to be more common to the average user than a PC…. this could be of use.

  3. SpoiledGirlieGirl says:

    This is great! Now if I could just use my home phone line to report when there is a telephone outage life would be so much easier.

  4. RIP MRHANDS says:

    Some of us have DSL + computers backed up by UPS.

  5. acasto says:

    I bet it took two MBAs and an MCSE/CCNA/almost-a-‘web-master’ to think this one up.

    I think this even tops the cable company’s message of telling you when you call to say your internet connection is down to check the help section of their website.

  6. blitzcat says:

    I just did this with a duke energy outage a week back. My cable modem and router are on a ups. I surfed pron in the dark for 90 minutes before my UPS died. Good times.

  7. Brilliant…
    Reminds me of how they are airing informational spots telling people without cable that they are going to have to get a converter soon, and naturally these spots are aired on cable networks like tbs & tnt.

  8. clevershark says:

    The laptop will run off a battery. Your router won’t.

  9. Nytmare says:

    I suppose that would work if your monitor, router, modem, and internet connectivity stay up during a power outage too.

    I don’t know, do neighborhood cable, DSL, and fiber-optic repeaters and local boxes also have some type of battery backup to keep operating?

  10. Buran says:

    @RIP MRHANDS: I have cable with UPSes, but it doesn’t last forever, and even if it does, eventually the headend loses power too.

  11. Teradoc says:

    Truth be told, I work for a power company. Feel good they are at least trying to help you and not just ignoring technology as it progresses.

  12. RIP MRHANDS says:

    @nytmare: DSL does. The remote terminals generally have batteries inside, and of course, your central office has banks of batteries and a generator.

    Cable, at least in my experience, will cut off in a power outage due to the lack of battery backup on the inline amplifiers.

  13. 44 in a Row says:

    I don’t know, do neighborhood cable, DSL, and fiber-optic repeaters and local boxes also have some type of battery backup to keep operating?

    A lot of them do now, mainly because they’re all offering phone service. I know that my Fios installation included a battery backup in the house for the main box, and they told me they have other battery backups down the line, so that if your power goes out your phones won’t immediately go out, too.

  14. Hanke says:

    I can do this from my Blackberry…I suppose an iPhone can do it too, or any otherweb-enabled mobile device. It’s not nearly as stupid an idea as it’s being made out to be.

  15. okvol says:

    Here in the outback of Okalahoma, OG&E has had this feature for over a year. It’s also fun to watch storm progress on the outage map. []

  16. Wormfather says:


    I own a laptop and so does my fiancee. However, we do not own a landline and even if we did, we do not even have dial up ports on our laptops.

    Guess what we do own, a cable modem and a router. Guess how those two things are powered, key word being powered.

  17. sleze69 says:

    Some of us have cell phone internet, too.

  18. monkey33 says:

    I’ve done this from work before, both with the power and the phone. We had a storm a few years ago that knocked out power for a week and that’s I how reported it. Just easier to do at work in less than 5 minutes, where I have power and get paid, than search for the number in the dark and wait for almost an hour on the phone.

  19. katylostherart says:

    @Wormfather: exaaactly what i was thinking. and if the whole block’s out it’s not like you’ll be stealing your internet from your neighbor will you?

  20. rjhiggins says:

    Those ridiculing the company: I think you’re the ones in the dark here. How about a Blackberry (or similar mobile device)? What if *your* power is out but there’s wireless available nearby (particularly if you live in the city)?

    Or perhaps your spouse calls you at work to tell you the power is out at home. You can go online and report it.

    In this case I think Con Ed is way out in front of Consumerist’s know-it-alls.

  21. johnva says:

    This isn’t stupid at all. What’s stupid is thinking that the Internet only exists on desktop computers with no UPS.

  22. snoop-blog says:

    @rjhiggins: yeah meg, what were you thinking labeling this as “funny”. i don’t an anyway have a sense of hu,.. i mean i don’t see how this is funny! :P

  23. fluiddruid says:

    Some of us have battery backups.

  24. nycaviation says:

    This has actually been a feature on the Con Ed site for over a year.

  25. statnut says:

    @rjhiggins: Not everyone has a Blackberry/Iphone.

    And unless your spouse is calling from a cell, dont see how they’ll call you.

    Sure, the ad makes sense for certain people. But its still pretty funny on its surface, wish people would just appreciate that and move on.

  26. egoebelbecker says:

    @johnva: And what’s really stupid is think that a significant number of people have the rest of the gear required to get online and submit a web form on their UPS along with the computer. (I do…but I’m just sayin’.)

  27. snoop-blog says:

    @statnut: agreed. this wasn’t put up here for debate. it was for humor. i guess some people have a sense of humor and some don’t. of course, everybody thinks they have a sense of humor…..

    “what’s the difference between a light bulb and a pregnant woman?….. you can unscrew the light bulb; see no sense of humor!”
    -steve martin, from “my blue heaven” (great movie! go get it, if you have a sense of humor that is)

  28. jeff303 says:

    Ack, OK already! For some computer users and customers this would be worthless. For some others with a different equipment setup this may be a useful and convenient way to report power outages. Great, let’s move on!

  29. picshereplz says:

    Jokes usually aren’t funny if they make no sense.

  30. As others have mentioned, my cable modem and router sit on a nice UPS… add the laptop to the mix and bingo, internets for a little bit before the batteries bite the dust!

  31. bohemian says:

    Ugh, for all the over the top technology we have at home we wouldn’t be able to do so unless we bought a few more UPS’s.

  32. rhombopteryx says:

    Hello – this is funny, because if not for the website you’d have to call the power company on your VOIP phone…. So much more convenient this way.

  33. Me - now with more humidity says:

    to all of you who have UPS: most people don’t. Welcome to the real world.

  34. Parting says:

    @Rando: And how are you gong to connect to internet? Huh? Unless you have a WiFi card from a wireless carrier, like Verizon, your laptop won’t let you go online. Duh!

  35. FLConsumer says:

    FWIW, most cable TV systems are set up with a single head-end and have line amplifiers in the individual neighborhoods, so they often will go out when power to your neighborhood has gone out. Of course this depends on how the cable co designed the system. I’m starting to see more distributed systems in cable TV now, but it’s not the norm.

    DSL usually goes straight to a central office with battery (& generator power in FL).

    Having been through a few hurricanes, in my experience cable’s the first thing to go, then power, then DSL. I have full battery backup on the 120v circuits of the house, full generator power for the whole house with air con. And yes, I have, for fun, used Florida Power & Light’s online reporting service. They’ve had it for >5 years now. 5 years ago Blackberries weren’t all that common nor was their web browser up to the task.

  36. catskyfire says:

    I think it’s not a bad option. Sure, you can still call in. But sometimes, people would do just about anything to -not- talk to a person (or an automated system) and the ability to do it with a web phone or a wireless laptop hitting a wi-fi zone would work great. Also, the power being reported might not be yours. I called in a power report to my local company when half of the street was out. My side was just fine.

  37. snoop-blog says:

    i don’t have any idea how something so right in front of your faces has managed to go right over your heads? if your looking at this page right now, at the very top on your blue bar, the first word it says is “Funny”! and if meg says it’s funny then damnit laugh!

  38. schiff says:

    Thats great, some of you have internet axx via dial up. Some of you have UPS backups. Some of you have phones with internet axx.

    Now the 95% of us remaining would like to say, whats the point?

  39. StevieD says:


    Yep, the primary purpose of an UPS is providing superior p_rn surfing capability.

  40. Scott says:

    jeff303 – my thoughts exactly.

    What the hell is wrong with you people? YES, some of us can get online during a power outage. What’s the big deal? Why is that funny? Don’t you think it’s rather forward-thinking of power companies who offer this method of communication, or do you believe technology only exists to the level of your ownership?


  41. Teh1337Pirate says:

    @Rando: Yeah but if your modem doesn’t have any power how do you get out to the internet? Usually if it’s an OUTAGE everyone in your area is going to be down so you wont be able to sneak on to someone else’s wireless either.

  42. AcidReign says:

        I considered UPS protection on my DSL modem/router to be a high priority. Those lightning strikes on your phone line can be really expensive, these days. The little 350 volt-amp UPS will run my network hub for hours, and the phone line never goes out. Even in hurricanes. I also have UPS protection on each desktop in the house, too. And the laptop has a spared battery, too.

  43. flconsumer2 says:


    True that a router usually has no battery or that you need it connected to UPS to work in a power outage. Bt I use EVDO on my laptop and am able to get on as long as the cell tower has power.

  44. arthurat says:

    Excel Energy in Colorado has this same ‘feature’ When you try to call the power outage line, they refer you to the website before silicon Sally moves you along. I’m glad I have a old style wall phone

  45. redknight says:

    Laptop? WiFi? Duh.

  46. sburnap42 says:

    One day, my wife called me at work because the power was out and “something in the den is making a loud noise!” So I connected to that machine from work over the DSL line, and safely shut down my home server.

    Yeah it’s a “joke”, but mocking a company for doing something smart seems unhelpful.

  47. KJones says:

    What is with the…individuals (they don’t deserve to be termed “people”) who idiotically assume everyone has wi-fi or that those who don’t are Luddites and technophobes? To them, I say: Grow a brain. If you want me to have it, pay for it yourself.

    As for the company’s idiotic advice to customers, I once had a similar problem with a phone company back in the mid-1990s. The line wasn’t working so I walked to the nearest office of the company.

    The idiot at the counter said, “Why didn’t you call us instead of coming in?” Out loud, I called her a moron, and she called for a manager to “deal” with me (as in threaten me). He arrived and I told him about the phone and her comment.

    The manager called the woman a moron. Out loud, in front of other customers.

  48. Orv says:

    @flconsumer2: My experience with the big blackout in the Eastern U.S. was that cell towers were good for two, maybe three hours. After that they quickly went out of commission as their backup power ran out. They don’t have the same ability to ride out outages that a “real” central office does.

  49. ribex says:

    What is the big deal? As long as they haven’t changed to this **in lieu of** the traditional phone number for outage reporting, there’s no harm in adding a second way for outages to be reported, you close-minded razafrazza… I mean, come on. There are a lot of scenarios where this would be useful, as previously mentioned with the Blackberrys and iPhones and UPS set-ups. Aren’t there still PCMCIA wireless data cards as sold by the cell phone companies, too?

    Here’s another: someone’s elderly parent calls them (via cell or wired phone, unaffected by the outage). The parent doesn’t know what the outage number is or maybe even that it exists. The child, who lives somewhere not affected, can do the reporting simply and easily from just about anywhere in the world!

  50. btdown says:

    FYI, my power company uses a preditive computer program that scans all the customers calling in to report outages. Based on the location of customers calling, it can predict at what device and location the outage is occurring. The more customers that call in, the more accurate the predicted location becomes. Most power company equipment (distribution) outside the substations are unmonitored and rely on the customer to report outages. Despite the obvious irony of asking you to report outages online, any report of an outage will assist them in resolving the problem quicker than if a lineman has to ride an entire line looking for a problem.

  51. karmaghost says:

    Let’s all agree that this is just one more option to report outages. Whether or not it’s the most effective, intelligent, or efficient isn’t really a huge issue.

    I’ll admit, though, that at first I thought it was really dumb until I thought about it a bit. I wonder if ConEd did as much thinking.

  52. Josh Smith says:

    Last time the power went out at work, I used my gasp laptop and cellphone to get online. I reported an outage and got a estimate for service to be restored!

  53. dogmaratt says:

    I use a broadband card in my laptop when the power is out, as people have mentioned.

  54. Id_LQQK says:

    This happened to me a couple weeks ago. I lost power in the middle of the day, called (on cell phone), while on hold the message said I could report this outage online. Not everyone has a laptop or enough battery back up time to do more than shut the computer down.
    After finally getting someone with a pulse on the phone. She asked, “Are you sure you lost power? e aren’t reporting an outage in your area.” I said I’m reporting it now. And I’m sure I have now power anywher in my house.
    Turns out, a tractor trailor clipped the power line as it dangled across the road. They said they could tell this was a problem for a while and it would take 6-8 hours to fix and get power back.
    My neighbor told me this has happened several times before and they still refuse to run the power line under ground instead of dangling it across the road.
    Luckily, I had a back-up generator or else my wife and 5 month old baby would have freezing.

  55. sactonf says:

    Same thing here in Jacksonville, FL…. when calling JEA (Jacksonville Electric Authority) they tell you to report no power by visisting

  56. rjhiggins says:

    @statnut: Yeah, not many people have cellphones these days. Plus, standard land-line phones don’t require electricity and usually work during power outages.

    For those who think some of us are humorless: Sorry if our senses of humor don’t mesh. C’est la vie.

  57. rjhiggins says:

    @chouchou: Duh! I have a laptop, which is usually charged, so I don’t need a UPS or other source of electricity (at least for a couple of hours, long enough to report the outage). Plus, there’s wireless all over my neighborhood, so I don’t need my router.

  58. RevRagnarok says:

    This is right up there with me needing to call in my meter readings to my power company. It’s an automated system, but for some retarded reason I can only call during business hours.

  59. rjhiggins says:

    One last comment on a topic that (per usual) has been beaten to death: The form is for reporting and checking on ANY kind of service need, which may have nothing to do with a power outage.

    But Meg and the rest of you are right, this is still downright hilarious.

  60. guevera says:

    During a power outage affecting one nearby county, the News Director for the TV station I was working at said “Should we run a crawl (on-screen text, like on CNN) to tell people?” To his credit, he realized how dumb that sounded before anyone said anything.

  61. jfischer says:

    Consumers are not always informed citizens.

    Consumerists are not always informed.

    (Message posted from a wireless handheld while waiting
    for a limo to the airport)

  62. Xjep says:

    “I think this even tops the cable company’s message of telling you when you call to say your internet connection is down to check the help section of their website.”

    hell yea I called Verizon one day and was on the line talking to the machine and it told me to go to the website and I was saying how the ” ten curse words ” do you go to the site if the internet is down and the guy came on the line saying I know I know how do you go to the site if your internet is down then he said we should really change that.

  63. guspaz says:

    @clevershark: They have these great little boxes, ingenious inventions, you hook them up to things and they keep them going without electricity. I think they were called “ups” or “downs” or something like that. I’m hoping it will let me keep surfing the tubes when the electric candles go out.

  64. strathmeyer says:

    Ah, it’s great when all the lights in your house go out except for the glow of the screen.