The McPherson Board of Public Utilities is concerned about the safety of our customers.
Don’t be fooled by identity theft and debit card schemes!
Utility customers throughout the United States are targets of scammers who use different tactics to get personal information or cash in fraudulent ways.
Two common versions of these scams involve the following:
- Callers asking for personal and financial information, claiming that President Obama was paying utility bills as part of a bailout plan.
- Callers asking customers to send a pre-paid debit card to pay their bill or to replace dangerous equipment.
In these cases and others, scammers are trying to defraud customers. They often target elderly people who are fearful their electricity may be turned off unless they comply immediately. These scammers usually have a little bit of information about you and will try to persuade you to provide more so they can gain access to your bank accounts and/or use your credit card numbers. Another recent scam that has surfaced targets business customers during peak business hours, such as restaurants at lunchtime. The scammers try to catch employees off guard in hopes of gaining account information, as well as instilling fear that power will be turned off when they have the most customers.
These scams may use email, Twitter, phone calls or even door-to-door visits. Many victims receive forwarded emails or text messages from well-meaning friends and family who were also victimized. You should always think twice before providing account or personal and financial information to anyone unless you are positive you know they are legitimate.
Before you do anything else, hang up and call the BPU at (620) 241-2515 to ask questions about anyone contacting you about your bill or claiming to be from the BPU.
Remember these tips:
- Never give anyone personal information, such as your Social Security number (including the numbers on the back of your Social Security card), bank account number or credit card number, unless you initiated the conversation and you are confident the transaction is legitimate.
- If you receive a call from someone claiming to be with your utility company asking for payment, hang up and call the utility’s customer service number. BPU customers can email us or call (620) 241-2515.
- If you have already provided information to someone making this offer, contact your bank and the three national credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, immediately.
- If someone pressures you to provide personal or financial information, hang up right away. Notify the police department at (620) 245-1200.
- Check on elderly relatives and friends, often targets of such schemes, to make sure they have not fallen victim to this fraud.
Kansas One-Call is the underground utility notification center for the state of Kansas. Through this facility, you can notify operators of underground facilities of proposed excavations to request that the underground facilities be marked BEFORE YOU DIG!
12 Tips to Prepare for Power Outages
Courtesy of the American Public Power Association
Posted on September 11, 2014 by By Mike Hyland, Senior Vice President of Engineering Services, American Public Power Association
We take electricity for granted. We don’t realize how much we depend on it until there is a storm or other disaster that takes the power out, for hours or even days, and we struggle with the basics of everyday life.
September is National Preparedness Month and a good time to think about how we can be prepared for power outages in the event of a natural or man-made disaster. The American Public Power Association has compiled 12 tips from federal agencies for things you can do prepare for an extended power outage.
- Keep your laptops and cell phones charged; also keep a radio & extra batteries handy to listen for directions from local officials if you lose power.
- Always keep some extra cash on hand and your car tank at least half full — during an extended power outage, ATMs, credit card machines, and gas pumps may not work.
- Know where the manual release lever of your electric garage door opener is located and how to operate it. Keep a key to your house with you if you usually enter through your garage.
- Use only flashlights for emergency lighting; never use candles during a blackout or power outage due to extreme risk of fire.
- Turn off or disconnect appliances, equipment (like air conditioners) or electronics in use when the power went out. Power may fluctuate as it returns and damage appliances. Keep one light on so you’ll when power comes back.
- Do not run a generator inside a home or garage. And do not connect a generator to a home’s electrical system. Just connect the equipment you want to run directly to the outlets on the generator.
- Before using any refrigerated foods, check your refrigerator and freezer thermometers. If the fridge is still at or below 40 °F, or the food has been above 40 °F for only two hours or less, it should be safe to eat. Frozen food that still has ice crystals or is at 40 °F or below can be safely refrozen or cooked. But when in doubt, throw it out.
- Avoid downed power lines — if a power line falls on your car, stay inside and call for help.
- If you believe someone has been electrocuted, do not touch them — call 911 and turn off the source of electricity if possible. If not, move the source away from you and the affected person using a nonconducting object made of cardboard, plastic or wood.
- Communicate with your power company — report downed power lines and outages, and report whether your neighbors have also lost power. Have your utility account number available, if possible. Check for service restoration status updates using a computer or mobile device.
- Stay clear of power crews working — for safety reasons, crews have to stop what they’re doing when bystanders come too close. Remain safe and let them work so they can quickly restore power.
- If your house sustains flood or wind damage to electric equipment, you may need to hire certified technicians to assess for possible structural, electrical, or natural gas-related safety issues before restoring energy supplies.
Tips compiled from Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Energy, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Red Cross, Food and Drug Administration. Learn more at www.ready.gov.
Many of the BPU customers have back-up generators to provide power when there are outages due to ice storms or other natural events. The main concern with these types of devices is safety. The safe and proper connection of a generator requires a transfer or double-throw switch which completely disconnects the generator from the BPU’s electric system.
This switch (shown below) prevents the flow of electricity into the utility’s line, which could electrocute line workers who are working to restore power. The switch also prevents the BPU’s power from reenergizing your farm, house, or business while the generator is running. It protects the generator, electrical wiring, and app-liances when electric service is restored.
If you would like more information about installing a back-up generator, please call the BPU Warehouse at (620) 245-2560. Regulation requiring the installation of a double-throw switch can be found in the BPU’s General Terms and Conditions.
At the McPherson Board of Public Utilities, we understand the beauty and importance of trees in our community. They provide shade and privacy and add value to our property. Unfortunately, most power outages can be attributed to trees being too close to power lines. BPU serves over 8,500 customers who live and work along 520 miles of electric line. These are the lines that deliver power to homes, neighborhoods, businesses, and communities. We must prune the trees that are located close to these power lines regularly, on a three to four year cycle, to ensure reliable electric service.
The BPU uses a private contractor, Royer Brothers Tree Service LLC, to implement most of our vegetation management techniques and objectives. They have a Kansas Certified Arborist on staff and their employees carry an Electrical Hazards Awareness Program (EHAP) Certificate.
When it becomes necessary to trim a shade or ornamental tree away from the power lines, the trimming technique most commonly used is called Directional Trimming. Directional Trimming strives to train the tree to grow away from the wires. These practices were developed by Dr. Alex Shigo, former chief scientist with the U.S. Forest Service, and are endorsed by tree trimming professionals across the country.
A guiding principle of Directional Trimming is that 90% of interfering branches can be removed by making three larger cuts within the tree. Trimmers will look within the tree to determine where these cuts should be made, rather than simply shortening a multitude of branch tips. Trees look different initially following Directional Trimming, but this practice provides the best opportunity for the tree to stay healthy.
Directional Trimming means fewer cuts are required to remove the limb at its attachment point within the tree. While the size of the cut may be larger than is common with tree topping or rounding, fewer cuts mean better wound isolation for the tree. This translates into less susceptibility to possible decay organisms in the future.
Additionally, our crews use the collar cutting method to remove limbs. This also helps the tree to isolate or compartmentalize the trimming cut.