A southern power company that spans parts of three states is launching a new text alert system, according to Huntington News.

The local outlet reported that Appalachian Power, a subsidiary of American Electric Power that serves roughly 1 million customers in parts of West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee, will now actively notify customers of power outages and provide updates on subsequent restoration processes.

"Outage alerts allow customers to receive real-time information updates whether they are home or away," Jeri Matheney, Appalachian Power spokesperson, told Huntington News. "It's a great tool for planning and making decisions about your family's comfort and safety."

The company said that their decision to launch the service was a direct result of customer feedback they received following a 2012 derecho, or wind storm. That storm hit the company's coverage area hard with heavy winds and rains. Following the storm, more than half of their customer base were left without power, ultimately taking over two weeks for crews to fully restore power to their customers. 

The company told Huntington news that real-time power restoration updates and outage notifications were the top two items of feedback they received from customers since the storm.

Appalachian's new system will allow customers to enroll into the text alert service through the company's website. Customers will have the option to be notified when their home or business is affected by a power outage and can also receive messages when outages have been reported in their general area. Updates will continue to be sent as crews determine the cause of the outage and estimate how long it will take to get power restored.

The company has been piloting the program since March and already has over 21,000 customers participating in the service. 

An increasing number of companies and communities are opting for similar types of service, as text messages are read quicker and more frequently than other message types. Developers wanting to take advantage of the speed of SMS for their business should utilize Swift SMS Gateway's SMS API.