PSC Begins Storm Outage Investigation

The state Public Service Commission has opened an investigation into how power companies and other utilities responded to the June 29 derecho in West Virginia.

The case filed Friday gives the utility companies 30 days to answer 11 issues in writing.

"The commission wants to look at all aspects of outages and restoration," PSC spokesperson Susan Small said.

The storm knocked off power to approximately two-thirds of the customers in West Virginia. Because of the widespread nature of the storm it took several days to get enough help from line crews from other states to begin putting a dent in the outage numbers. A few other storms also hindered the restoration.

Some customers didn’t have power restored for two weeks. Thousands of state residents had to throw out tons of food. The storm also created water problems because pump stations had no electricity.

Small says the goal of the investigation is not to cast blame but to find out what happened.

"It would be an even bigger unfortunate incident if we didn’t learn anything from what happened and we weren’t prepared the next time a storm like this rolled through West Virginia," she said.

The utilities will have to submit their operation plans to deal with outages, discuss the extent of outages and the problems they faced that caused delays in repair.

Small says it’s too early to say if there will be hearings in association with the investigation.

"The commission has requested the answers in writing to these questions within 30 days and at that point the commission will determine what further steps it will take," Small said.

The utilities include Appalachian Power, Mon Power, Potomac Edison, West Virginia American Water Company, Beckley Water Company and several other water utilities.


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