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updated: 7/11/2011 6:11 PM

ComEd text alerts get mixed reviews

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Since she often travels for work, Maggie Lang signed up for ComEd outage text alerts last month, hoping it'd help her keep tabs on the power situation in her Mount Prospect home.

If she was traveling and got a text saying her power was out, she could ask a neighbor to keep an eye on things or flip on her generator if necessary.

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Lang was out of town Monday morning when the storm knocked out power to her home, but she never received a text from ComEd.

She was one of several ComEd customers of the more than 20,000 who signed up for the service who expressed frustration over the absent texts following Monday's massive outage.

Lang said she unsuccessfully reached out to ComEd on Twitter, and also tried their toll-free number, but got trapped in an automated system.

"I know how difficult it is operationally ... but their website had no notices, even hours later. I would call and call and call, to try and get some status updates. All they'd say is no new information," Lang said. "It's really frustrating. You feel helpless."

ComEd spokeswoman Judy Rader said the outage alert text system was operating normally Monday. It's just that the system only sends text messages if the power restoration time is known. In Monday's case, when at one point more than 800,000 people were without power, the restoration times were not available, Rader said.

"If the restoration times are not clear, then the outage alerts aren't provided," she said. "We regret if any customers were unable to get in contact with us. ComEd.com has been performing well, and is fully operational today."

Oliver Wine, of Lake Forest, said the outage alert system worked perfectly after last month's storm, when his power was knocked out for two days. He said he received numerous texts from ComEd then, with frequent estimated restoration updates and even a notice that a crew was on its way to his neighborhood.

But as of 5:30 p.m. Monday, when Wine's power had been out for nine hours, he said he hadn't received a single text from ComEd.

"The texts were extremely helpful the last time. I didn't have to keep calling in every few hours or go online to see what was going on," he said. "They just weren't there this time."

Wine said he found information on ComEd.com about his estimated power restoration time, but it's changed four times.

"They have some sort of restore time in their system but have not been able to communicate it (in texts)," he said. "I'm willing to cut them a little slack ... I just want to be communicated with as a consumer."

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