PUC finds fault with Peco service during ice storm

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, left, looks up at the PECO linemen repairing the overhead power lines on Union Meeting Road in Blue Bell, PA and listens to Steven Singh, far right, PECO Director of Electrical Distribution for Bucks and Montgomery Counties, as he talks about the process of restoring power to Southeastern Pennsylvania. The recovery continues after the ice storm left 500,000 without power. Gov. Corbett visits Montco, one of the hardest hit areas, as PECO warns customers that some will be without power for several more days. 02/06/2014( MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer )
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, left, looks up at the PECO linemen repairing the overhead power lines on Union Meeting Road in Blue Bell, PA and listens to Steven Singh, far right, PECO Director of Electrical Distribution for Bucks and Montgomery Counties, as he talks about the process of restoring power to Southeastern Pennsylvania. The recovery continues after the ice storm left 500,000 without power. Gov. Corbett visits Montco, one of the hardest hit areas, as PECO warns customers that some will be without power for several more days. 02/06/2014( MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer )
Posted: May 21, 2014

Too many customers received mixed messages, contradictory messages - or no message at all - from their electric utilities during the massive February ice storm, according to state regulators.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Monday documented shortcomings in the way Peco Energy Co. and other electric utilities communicated with customers during the storm, which knocked out 960,000 customers, including 724,000 Peco customers.

While generally commending the utilities' response, the PUC made 11 recommendations - mostly regarding outreach with customers and local governments.

An ongoing sore point for utilities is to more accurately report to customers when service is expected to be restored. A big source of complaints are embedded or "nested" customers who remain without service after their neighbors have been restored.

"Peco's outbound restoration phone calls were problematic due to the language in the calls, which indicated that the customer had been restored when in fact customers with embedded outages were not restored," the PUC said.

About 4.6 percent of the one million calls made to Peco during the storm encountered a busy signal, up from 2.7 percent during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The PUC said the winter storm caused nearly as much damage as Sandy.


amaykuth@phillynews.com

215-854-2947 @maykuth

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