*NOTE: This press release contains updated information as of July 6, 2015.

WEST CHESTER (July 2) – State Senator Andy Dinniman is working with PECO and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) to address issues related to power outages, reliability and restoration times.

“Following the recent severe thunderstorms that left thousands without power in our region, I have heard from dozens of constituents who expressed concerns about recurring outages and PECO’s failure to provide them with accurate restoration time estimates,” Dinniman said. “I am working to get answers and hold PECO accountable in order to resolve these issues before the next episode of severe weather.”

In response to these concerns, Dinniman said that PECO will be conducting a reliability report for each resident who contacted his office. The report will examine power reliability for that location over the past two years and survey any issues potentially related to recurrent outages.

line-210964_1280In addition, Dinniman said he has been in contact with the PUC on the issue of PECO’s failure to provide residents with accurate restoration time estimates during power outages.

“I recently met with PUC Chair Gladys Brown and she assured me that commission staff members will be talking with PECO to get to the bottom of these concerns,” he said.

Dinniman said the inaccurate estimates first came to his attention during last winter’s ice storm when numerous residents, his family included, were repeatedly told their power would be restored within hours, only to have the process take days. He said that after the ice storm, he brought the problems to the attention of PECO officials and was assured that it would be resolved.

However, following last week’s severe thunderstorms that left thousands in the region without power, he learned that residents were again unable to get straight answers from PECO and were repeatedly strung along about when their service would be restored.

“I have heard from dozens of constituents who were told their power would be restored in a matter of hours only to have that time pushed back again and again for several days,” Dinniman said. “Experiencing a power outage is difficult enough. The lack of accurate information and the dissemination of what appears to be disinformation only compound the problem. In this day in age, there must be a better, more accurate way of keeping customers appraised of restoration efforts and estimated restoration times.”

In addition, Dinniman said he plans to work with the PUC to look into addressing infrastructure concerns that leave many of the same neighborhoods without power every time a severe storm hits the region. Often, these communities are the last to see power restored.

“The commitment I got from PECO in terms of conducting reliability studies is the first step in addressing these infrastructure concerns,” Dinniman said.

Dinniman also emphasized that his criticism is directed not at those working to repair power lines, but PECO administrators who need to improve their customer communications.

“I want to make it clear that we respect, appreciate and praise the efforts of all those who go out and risk their safety to restore power to our region following these severe storms,” he said. “My concerns are directed to administrators and executives at PECO who made assurances after the last ice storm to improve the company’s customer communications system and apparently failed to do so.”

Many residents who contacted Senator Dinniman’s office shared similar experiences regarding inaccurate power restoration times from PECO. A sampling of their stories is as follows:

“I am not blind to the issues that are being faced by the power teams trying to restore the power, I only expect honesty. I have my 80 year old mother living with us and she is confined to a wheel chair. It is her prime means of mobility and the power in the battery is nearly gone.”

“PECO estimated it would be back on by 10 p.m. last night then when that passed they said they could not estimate. As of this morning they estimated 12 p.m. today. Now they are estimating 11 p.m. tonight. Making matters worse I just had surgery today so this is not helping the situation, especially as we have two young daughters to try to take care of. I understand that PECO is working hard to fix all the issues. It would be helpful if they were even somewhat accurate with their estimates and delivered.”

“If I need to pack up and leave, I need to know that. If they told me it would be on Friday, at least I can plan. Then if it comes on on Wednesday, great. We never want to be without power, but it’s worse when you don’t know what is going on.”

“This is the fifth time PECO has changed their timeline for our community in South Coatesville. I know someone has to be last…but the inaccurate estimates are out of control.”

“I was able to check PECO’s outage update on their website when I was at work each day and found their notifications to be very misleading. If I had known my power would be out for three days I could have made plans and booked a hotel or stayed with family. However, as the website kept indicating that power would be restored within hours each day I made no such plans and we suffered through it. Something should be done to provide customers with more realistic restoration time frames.”

“I live in the North West quadrant of the (West Chester) borough and when we lost power as a result of the storm, diligently tried calling PECO’s emergency reporting number which turned out to be inoperable throughout the outage. This was very frustrating for myself and my neighbors and also raised serious concerns when there is a future outage or a gas leak. PECO is also reminding consumers to call to self-report and not count on your neighbors. We called and their reporting system was not working throughout the outage which is the same as what occurred two winters ago.”

 

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