Report on February storms largely praises response from utilities

Written by Ben Allen and Radio Pennsylvania | Jun 10, 2014 3:12 PM

(Harrisburg) -- A report from the state Public Utility Commission largely praises utilities in the midstate for their response to this winter's storms. However, there are still areas for improvement.

The After Action Review from the PUC finds the counties and utilities coordinated well, and learned from issues that surfaced during Hurricane Sandy.

The utilities also communicated well with customers, according to the report, with updated maps online, through email and Facebook.

Compared to issues in the Philadelphia area, the midstate comes out looking very good.

"There were a lot of communication issues, especially when it came to managing the estimated time of restoration. Because it was something where customers were getting information and it was inaccurate, and so that led to a lot of customers being frustrated. Thinking that they're power was coming back on, and it wasn't, and those types of situations," says PUC spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher.

The report also says more frequent updates should go out to customers on when power has been restored.

"We also want the utilities to work on educating consumers on what they call an embedded outage, which is where you may have a larger line that went down, and so that line gets restored, but there's maybe 4 or 5 customers on a smaller line that are still out."

Other issues include unplowed roads in some rural areas that made it difficult for crews, and better strategies for helping assisted living facilities and shelters.

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