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Lawmaker seeks information about storm-caused outages

By Pam Cunningham
Published On: Nov 14 2011 06:00:00 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 15 2011 05:31:59 PM CST

You may want to forget about the horrors of the pre-Halloween snowstorm that left thousands of people without power.

HARRISBURG, Pa. -

You may want to forget about the horrors of the pre-Halloween snowstorm that left thousands of people without power.

One Pennsylvania lawmaker from Berks County, however, is hoping you will jog your memory one last time. The goal is to prevent the problem from popping up again.

"This storm had an incredible impact on individuals, on businesses, on farmers, and I felt it was very important to provide people with an outlet telling their story," said Pa. Sen. Judy Schwank, D-Berks Co.

Schwank said she wants to hear from her constituents about how long their outage lasted and what complaints they have. She plans to forward the information she collects to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

"The point isn't a blame game," said Schwank. "The point is what will we do in the future to address that same problem. Can we do better?  I think so. So, we'll find out."

In Schwank's letter to the Public Utility Commission, she wanted to address rumors that utility companies had cut back on tree trimming or that they had aging equipment. At Met-Ed, they said that's just not the case, and they also addressed the largest rumor which said they cut back on linemen.

"In the last four years we've had 64 linemen and substation workers. Since 2004, we have more linemen working today then we did compared to 2004," said Scott Surgeoner, Met-Ed spokesman.

Met-Ed officials said they are looking at what they can improve, and they will send information to their regulator.

"We are looking forward to cooperating with the public utility commission," said Surgeoner.  "They are also going to conduct a review of our restoration efforts from the October snowstorm."

The PUC said it will review all of the feedback, and it can then order or direct the power companies to correct problems found during the pre-Halloween snowstorm.

"I hope that we have a better process in place," said Schwank. "One to communicate with people who are experiencing power outages as well as the response on the part of the utilities to more quickly resolve the problems."

Schwank's office will be collecting your stories on her website until Friday.