Town officials are reassuring thousands of residents that their electricity service will not be shut off after an automated call Friday evening told residents their power was scheduled to be disconnected.
Officials are also apologizing for an ill-timed follow-up call that was meant to come around 4:30 p.m. Sunday, but didn’t reach some residents until 1 a.m., the town said in a release. The second call was to alert residents of the initial mistake.
The shut-off message came from the town’s automated town-to-resident phone system and was meant for only 292 Wake Forest Power customers who hadn’t paid their bills, according to a release from the town. An unidentified town employee chose the wrong notification list, and the message reached almost every resident in Wake Forest.
Posts on the town’s Facebook page, where many residents aired their concerns of a phone scam, show some calls reached as far as Youngsville.
Town officials are not sure why the second call was delivered to some residents in the middle of the night. They are working with Nixle, a town-to-resident phone notification system, to identify the cause of the delay.
“We’re terribly sorry this happened and for all the inconvenience and unnecessary worry it has caused,” said town spokesman Bill Crabtree.
Wake Forest began using Nixle in August. Nixle uses publicly listed phone numbers in the area to create a contact list, and residents have the option to opt-in to the service on cellphones and email.
Residents receive notices about parks and recreation activities, past due utility bills and emergency notifications through Nixle.
At first, town officials thought the shut-off calls were some sort of scam, seeking additional payments. After further investigation, they determined that the calls originated at town hall and that their system was to blame.
To try to avoid a similar mistake in the future, town employees who use the Nixle system will get refresher training. The town also decided that power disconnection notices will come only via telephone Mondays through Thursdays, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., and never on evenings, Fridays or weekends.