South Carolina utilities to Twitter if hurricane hits

The StateJune 15, 2009 

If a hurricane hits South Carolina this summer, some utilities will use Twitter to update customers about power outages and safety messages.

Twitter?

For those who are a bit behind the high-tech curve, Twitter is a free online social networking service that posts brief text messages on the author’s profile page and sends them to other subscribers, called “followers.”

But in the event of a severe storm or some other catastrophic event, utility officials said, Twitter could be a valuable tool to pass along storm information, in addition to posting reports on their Web sites and issuing news releases to traditional media channels, such as newspapers and local TV stations.

“Quite honestly, I think it’s very appealing to us,” said Michelle Pearson of Charlotte-based Duke Energy, which serves 600,000 customers in South Carolina.

“If the power goes out, and their cell phone is still charged up, Twitter gives us the opportunity to share information with customers,” Pearson added.

Cell phones could be a vital communication link if a storm causes widespread power outages, darkens TV stations, and disrupts land-line telephone service, the utilities added.

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