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PA Public Utility Commission holds hearing on power

On Feb. 5, 2014, a chaotic blend of snow and ice resulted in widespread power outages throughout much of the greater Philadelphia area. Hundreds of thousands were left in the dark, some of them for days on end. Dozens of people affected by the storm gathered inside a classroom at Montgomery County Community College’s Blue Bell Campus on Monday night. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission hosted a forum, allowing frustrated customers to speak one-on-one with representatives from PECO. “I had no electricity, no phone, nothing,” said one attendee. While some expressed gratitude for PECO’s quick response times during the storm, others said they were disappointed. “I really couldn’t understand why we were out for three days,” said one attendee. Perhaps the biggest, and most shared complaint, was what residents called “poor communication” on the energy company’s part. “I got a phone call that my power had been restored. I said ‘no it’s not.’ It was automated.” PECO recognized that issue and said it’s looking into adjusting its automated messages “To change the wording so people understand what to do with that message instead of being frustrated,” said Eric Helt, Vice President of Electric Operations for PECO. Other frustrations included changing restoration times and sub par customer service. PECO said its smart meters will help with a lot of these complaints. It plans on implementing them circuit-wide within the next year. “We will get a lot information directly from the meter and won’t have to rely on the customer for any of that,” Helt said. PECO representatives, along with the PUC, said they will take that feedback and work on amending these issues. Another hearing will be held in Chester County at the Tredyffrin Township Building in Berwyn. It’s set for 6:30 Wednesday night.