June 29, 2011: Glenview's Robert Ritchey, 73, was among the 440,000 ComEd customers who lost power in the wake of a serious summer storm. (Published Friday, Jul 1, 2011)
A 73-year-old retired truck driver from north suburban Glenview came away from the violent storm of June 21 with an unenviable distinction.
Eight days after the massive outage, Robert Ritchey became the last Commonwealth Edison customer to get his electricity restored. He got his power back about 8 P.M. Wednesday.
The power provider on Thursday apologized to Ritchey and launched an investigation into how the chain of command broke down, leaving Ritchey in the dark with a tangled mess of downed power lines scattered through his backyard.
"We will do a full review of this event and the whole experience our customer suffered through," said Fidel Marquez, Jr, the utility's Senior Vice President of Customer Relations. "Is it a training issue? What processes need to be reviewed?"
Marquez says Ritchey "did everything right" in notifying ComEd about the outage at the home on the 2200 block of Dewes Street, where he’s lived the last 70 years
Two human errors at ComEd, however, led to a communication breakdown, which resulted in a failure to remedy Ritchey’s power in a timely manner," said Marquez.
Specifically, Marquez said a ComEd dispatcher -- after taking a call from Ritchey -- marked the investigation as "complete" with "service restored." In addition, a ComEd customer service representative failed to fast-track Ritchey’s case after learning he had been without power for so long.
"It should have been escalated sooner. The job should not have been statused as complete," said Marquez.
For his part, Ritchey said he holds no anger towards ComEd.
"Things happen. It happens tomorrow. It happens next week. People make mistakes," he said.
ComEd has since sent a manager to Ritchey's house to personally offer an apology.
"It was quite embarrassing for all of us here. We just want to make sure it doesn't happen again," said Marquez.
Published at 8:35 PM CDT on Jul 1, 2011