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Cleco Warning Customers To Beware Of Scam + Assuring Customers Of Company’s Hurricane Preparedness (Audio)

Power Lines
(Photo by Flickr User ell brown)

In our continuing coverage on the 2013 Hurricane Season, we now turn to Cleco. The main areas in Acadiana the company covers are parts north of Lafayette in the Opelousas, Ville Platte area and down into the New Iberia and Patterson areas.

Before hurricane preparedness is addressed, though, there is a scam targeting Cleco customers. Cleco Spokesperson Robbyn Cooper says con artists are impersonating Cleco employees, calling customers and threatening to disconnect their power unless money is wired to the caller. “Be on alert for these type of calls,” says Cooper. “And when they do get these calls and they’re unsure, just tell them that you’ll get back with CLECO, hang up and call our 1-800 number.” (1-800-622-6537)

Cooper says Cleco may occasionally call customers to remind them of an overdue bill, but they never discuss nor dictate payment method within those calls.  “How a customer chooses to pay a bill and where they choose to pay it, whether it’s at a CLECO service office, or a payment location, that’s up to the customer,” says Cooper.

Cooper also adds you should never give out any personal info, like Social Security number, credit or bank account numbers to these callers.

Meanwhile, how prepared is Cleco for a potential hurricane or powerful storm this hurricane season? Emergency Coordinator James Laas addresses that:

Cleco works year round preparing for emergency events such as hurricanes and ice storms and anything else that can hit our distribution system. We’re required by the Louisiana Public Service Commission to have a document of our plan and we keep it on file with them so every year we update that document right before hurricane season. But we work, we have teams of people throughout the company that come together for emergency events, to do the different jobs required, to bring in the external crews to get our system back up to serving the customers and get the electricity turned back on. We bring in several thousand linemen and right-of-way trimming personnel when we need them during storms. We work through mutual assistance organization, which is other utilities all over the eastern part of the United States, to help us bring in those forces. Now I work…to update the document and through that process we critique what we did during previous storms in previous years and we work to refine and correct the mistakes we made or what didn’t go so smooth. We’ve worked to do it early in the year. We work with all the hotels around…the service territory…(so) we can secure rooms for the workforce   we bring in to repair the system. We also work with all our vendors…that we need and make sure that we are available. We also secure other sites to help bring in that extra workforce to stage and to help us do the work. So we constantly communicate, and that’s what we feel is very important. So we communicate with everybody we can. We developed our website to help try to communicate with the public what’s going on during outage events where they can see when they have power or when they can expect it to come back on.

Cooper recommends customers check out for helpful hurricane tips, generator safety advice and an outage map, which she says can be used anytime of the year. “In addition to knowing that your residence may be without power, the information also will let you know an estimated restoration time,” says Cooper.

For a complete interview between Brandon Comeaux and Cleco Spokesperson Robbyn Cooper and Emergency Coordinator James Laas, CLICK BELOW:

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