Lebanon Reporter

Local News

April 30, 2014

Crash stymies Lebanon Utilities

Lebanon — A computer outage that happened on April 16 has delayed bills for about half of Lebanon Utilities’ customers.

About 17 terabytes of data, including billing records, were affected by the server crash, said Jay McCoskey, Lebanon Utilities general manager.

The crash also knocked out email and other services for Lebanon city government, Mayor Huck Lewis said.“The first few days were tough, because we didn’t have phones,” Lewis said. “The only problem we’re having right now is email: We can send them, but we can’t receive them.”City department heads haven’t been able to receive monthly spending statements, called an “appropriation report,” Lewis said. “It’s more an inconvenience than it’s a super-big issue,” Lewis said.A potential problem with the servers had been identified about two months before the system went down, McCoskey said. Replacement equipment arrived “within a few days after the outage, but it was too late,” he said.

The defective servers were shipped to a data recovery company in Cleveland Ohio, he said. “They committed to two to four days to recover the data, but it ended up being six days; that put us behind.”Tuesday morning technicians began loading information and applications on the new servers. The quantity of information makes that a lengthy process, McCoskey said.“From everything we can see right now, we recovered all the data,” he said. “We want to reassure customers there was no data breach with this.”“We apologize for the delay,” McCoskey said.

Utility customers who normally make payments over the phone or on line haven’t been able to do so because of the outage. About 15 percent of the utility’s revenue is paid electronically, McCoskey said.

Some customers could see a time crunch with bill payment because of the problem.

Bills will include a message — with a more detailed letter to follow — explaining what happened. Customers will still have 14 days from a delayed bill’s due date to make payment. But, in some cases, customers may get their next bill shortly after their late bill.“There will be no late fees charged,” McCoskey said. “There will be no disconnections, until all this dust settles and everything is back to normal.”Customers who think making payments might be an issue are encouraged to contact the utility. Those who are on the budget plan, or who have a general idea of their monthly bill, should send in a payment now, McCoskey said.

Laurie Gross, Lebanon Utilities customer service representative, said “hopefully, if we get (the servers) up soon, we’ll have bills mailed out at the first of the week.”Action on service requests delayed by the server problem will be taken as soon as possible, she said.

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