Categories
News

Electricity provider takes pro-active stance on service and reliability issues

Electricity provider Penelec is taking a pro-active stance regarding service and reliability issues according to Beverly Green, the company’s area manager based in Altoona.
The state’s Public Utility Commission is holding a series of hearings during the next two and a half weeks regarding service and reliability issues involving three operating companies of FirstEnergy. One of those companies, Penelec, provides service to business and residential customers in northern Blair County.
Green met with State Representative Jerry Stern on Friday regarding the issues which led to the PUC hearings.
“We meet with elected officials on a regular basis including Mayor (Patricia) Stoner in Tyrone as well as state and federal officials from time to time on different issues. This is nothing out of the ordinary,” said Green.
“With the public involved in this particular issue, we felt some constituents might bring their concerns to elected officials and we wanted to let those officials know what we’ve been doing on the issue,” she said. “We have a series of meetings with other representatives planned during the next couple of weeks.
“One thing we’ve done is institute a pro-active maintenance program,” Green told The Daily Herald. “This program was first started in Ohio and proved to be effective and got results.
“We’ve now started to implement these ideas in Pennsylvania and New Jersey since (First Energy) acquired companies in those states in 2001,” said Green.
“Last year, we decided to put trucks on the road 16 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Green. “The move allows us to mobilize more quickly when a problem comes up after hours.
“Previously, we had vehicles on the road only Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” said Green.
“Another program we’ve implemented is a circuit reliability index,” explained Green. “What we do is field check 25 percent of the circuits and we log the information so we can see what needs rehabilitation, change or correction.
“In the past we were more reactive,” said Green. “What these programs do is give us a better plan for maintenance along with planning for the future by combining the programs with information from customers on complaints and poor service issues.
“This is only the second year, we are starting to see results, but it takes time,” said Green.
“One other thing we are doing is getting back to our right-of-way tree trimming,” Green told The Daily Herald. “The idea is to have a four-year cycle as this is what we understand is necessary for the trees in the area. We had gotten away from it but there is a $13 million dollar budget for it and some of that money is set aside for the region which includes northern Blair County.
“We take the problem seriously, in looking at three different First Energy operating companies, the PUC felt there were concerns,” said Green. “I don’t think they are saying there are problems but I think they want to verify service and reliability issues.
“We want to take the opportunity to solve the problems before customers go to the PUC level,” said Green. “A customer can express their concerns by calling the customer information center at 1-800-545-7741 and a local person will respond to it.
“We will be giving a brief presentation at the public hearings prior to the hearing convening,” said Green. “Certainly, if asked we’ll have officials on hand to answer questions. However, the understanding is this is a hearing for the PUC to take public comment.”
Locally, the PUC hearing will be held on April 15, 2004 at 7 p.m. at the Blair County Convention Center in Altoona.