UTILITIES SCRAMBLE TO RESTORE POWER IN PA., MD.

Editor’s note:  Ash, you’re a class act!

HARRISBURG, PA (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of people spent a second day without electricity Thursday as utility crews from as far away as Canada and Arkansas scrambled to restore power lost when ice took down trees and limbs in the mid-Atlantic. Forecasters said a bone-chilling cold would remain in place for days.

Nearly a half-million customers lacked power in Pennsylvania and Maryland. In Pennsylvania, where most of the outages were located, officials likened the scope of the damage to a hurricane. Some who might not get power back for several days sought warmth — or at least somewhere to recharge their batteries — in shopping malls, public libraries and hastily established shelters.

One cafe in downtown Pottstown gave about 15 free meals to people without power, encouraged them to plug in devices and even let a few get a warm shower.

“It’s just kind of giving back to the community — there’s no other purpose of this,” said iCreate Cafe owner Ashraf Khalil.

Read more: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/storm-leaves-hundreds-thousands-dark

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PPL To Add Distribution Improvement Charge To Bills

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) i...

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) is the tallest building in Allentown, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PPL Utilities customers will soon see a new addition to their bills: a special charge aimed at financing speedier improvements to the Allentown-based utility’s electricity distribution system.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission approved the new fee, which can be added to bills starting in July. Proceeds can be used to “recover reasonable and prudent costs incurred to repair, improve or replace certain eligible distribution property that is part of a utility’s distribution system.”

The commission approved PPL’s five-year accelerated infrastructure replacement plan in January.  The plan includes more than $135 million in system improvements and reliability upgrades this year, and a total of $700 million between now and 2017.

Customers’ bills are expected to increase by about 0.44 percent, or 20 cents on the bill of a typical residential customer with 1,000 kilowatt-hours of monthly usage.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-ppl-distribution-charge-20130523,0,881996.story

PPL To Seek Fee To Help Pay For Upgrades

PPL Electric Utilities is planning $705 million in improvements to its infrastructure over the next five years and is turning to its customers to help pay the bill.

PPL spokesman Bryan Hay said the company plans to file a petition this week with the state Public Utility Commission asking for a new fee that would help fund improvements to the company’s distribution system.

Hay did not provide specifics about the new charge, but said details would be released this week.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=443503

Electricity Costs Increase For PECO Customers

The 473,000 PECO customers who have made the switch to an alternative energy supplier must have felt pretty good about their choice Monday.

“PECO’s energy delivery rates have not changed but the price we are paying to purchase electricity for customers who have not switched to an alternative provider has gone up 21.5 percent from the third to the fourth quarter,” said PECO spokeswoman Cathy Engle Menendez.

“The price is adjusted quarterly and tied directly to the wholesale cost of electricity.  We have no control over this price.  It’s a pass-through.”

Read more: http://business-news.thestreet.com/the-mercury/story/electricity-costs-increase-peco-customers/1

State Criticizes Met-Ed, PPL On Outages

 

English: Hurricane Irene over North Carolina, ...

English: Hurricane Irene over North Carolina, United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Met-Ed and PPL electric utilities have to improve their tree-trimming and line maintenance so that preventable outages like those that occurred during the major storms of 2011 can be reduced or eliminated.

The utilities also must be more responsive to customers during major storms, according to three reports critical of the utilities, issued this week by the state Public Utility Commission.

The reports were ordered in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene last August, flooding rains from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee in early September, and the freak late October snowstorm.

“Tree trimming should be a primary concern for both the (electric utilities) and commission for its effect on reliability as well as its role in long-duration outages,” the report said.

Raed more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=407845

Pennsylvania Getting Yet Another Area Code

Pennsylvania in blue with Area Code 814 shown ...

Image via Wikipedia

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission voted today to split up the (814) area code.  This area code, which covers from Erie County to the Maryland border, is running out of phone numbers.

The PUC considered three proposals on how to divide up this massive swath of Pennsylvania.  Of the four original Pennsylvania area codes established in 1947, (814) was the last area code to remain unchanged.

Below is as link to the PA PUC website showing the county split.  The new area code number has yet to be determined.

http://www.puc.state.pa.us/telecom/pdf/areacode/814split_CountyMap2010.pdf