Public Utility Commission Continues Review of Storm Power Outages

Between the end of August and end of October, Pennsylvania was hit by a hurricane, tropical storm and October snowstorm.  The state Public Utility Commission is still reviewing the impact on the power grid.

The PUC held a special electric reliability forum in October.  While the majority of customers had service restored in 48 hours, some people were out of service for days. During a recent house budget hearing, the commission was asked about right-of-way maintenance. 

Commissioner Wayne Gardner says trees in the right-of-way are not the only problem.  He says on average more than 40% of the time customers are without power is due to trees and vegetation outside of the right-of-way.  He says he has personally viewed trees that were out of a right-of-way by some 60 feet that were about 100 feet high and capable of taking down three or four poles at a time.

Utilities already have right-of-way maintenance programs.  They’ve been asked to look at the issue of trees that are outside of their control, and make some recommendations to the PUC for how to approach the problem.  Gardner hopes the commission will have some recommendations this summer.

One state representative suggested that tree and vegetation issues might be better solved locally by a Shade Tree Commission.