Alabama Power Co. is trying to stop what it calls "an unusually effective scam."
The power company says its customers have been called for months by people pretending to be from Alabama Power. The customers are told they have a short deadline to make a payment. They are instructed to go to a local retailer, buy a reloadable debit card for a given amount, and then call another phone number to share the account number on the card. Alabama Power says the fraud has focused on commercial customers because they are more likely to have larger bills.
Nearly 100,000 customers were without power across Alabama early Tuesday after storms with the force of hurricane winds toppled trees and utility lines.
Alabama Power said early Tuesday morning that 98,200 customers were without power as of 6 a.m., down from more than 222,000 customers after the Monday storms.
Most of the customers who remained without power -- about 50,000 -- were east of Birmingham in communities such as Gadsden, Oneonta, Anniston and Pell City. Dozens of communities around the state experienced significant damage, authorities said.
Experts on restoring electric power after natural disasters are gathering in Birmingham on Monday and Tuesday to share their best practices.
A spokesman for Alabama Power Co. says experts in storm recovery from nearly 30 electric utilities are scheduled to attend the meeting.
Alabama Power's vice president of distribution, Danny Glover, is co-chair of the meeting along with Keith Hull, who is vice president of distribution at Texas-based Oncor. The meeting is being conducted by an association of electric utilities from across the nation.
A crew from the National Weather Service plans to inspect storm damage in southwestern Alabama to determine whether damage to homes in the area was caused for a tornado or high winds.
Preliminary reports from the weather service indicate that homes were damaged near the small community of St. Stephens, a few miles outside Jackson. Survey crews were planning to assess the damage on Monday.
Forecasters say more than 4 inches of rain has fallen in parts of the Alabama -- and the totals are continuing to climb.
The Alabama Public Service Commission has blocked Commissioner Terry Dunn's request for a formal review of the rate structures for Alabama's three largest investor-owned utilities.
Dunn made a motion Thursday for formal reviews of Alabama Power, Alabama Gas and Mobile Gas, but commissioners Twinkle Cavanaugh and Jeremy Oden said an informal process is the best way to proceed. That will begin later this month with Mobile Gas.
More than 2,300 Alabama businesses are getting savings from special electric rates that the state's utility regulatory board approved last year to encourage an economic recovery. The Public Service Commission worked with Alabama Power last summer to institute the rates to encourage economic growth. So far, the savings total nearly $850,000. Most of the participations are businesses that qualified to save $25 per month by using small business rates. Forty-six are businesses that are getting discounts for opening a new location in a building that had been vacant for at least six months.