Dinniman rips PECO over poor communication


State Sen. Andy Dinniman

WEST CHESTER — In the wake of the sudden storm that knocked out power for thousands of Chester County residents, a state senator is taking them to task for failing to communicate with its customers when things go wrong.

State Senator Andy Dinniman said today that PECO officials need to improve the way the energy company communicates with customers in light of the thousands of Chester County residents still left without power after Tuesday’s thunderstorms.

“The number one complaint I hear from constituents is that they cannot get straight answers from PECO and they are continually strung along about when their service will be restored. First they are told power will be restored at 11 p.m. Then the next day it is 3 p.m. Then they are again told 11 p.m. And this goes on for days,” he said.

Numerous area residents still did not have power restored by Thursday afternoon — and as Dinniman described, have been given multiple estimates for power restoration by the company.

Dinniman said he and his family experienced the same scenario during last February’s ice storm when his Exton home was left without power for more than three days.

“Most residents understand that restoring downed power lines is time and labor intensive and are willing to be patient. But it is not unreasonable to expect to get accurate updates and estimates from a public utility company. Last winter, I knew people who stayed in their homes without heat for days on end because they were repeatedly told their service would be restored in a matter of hours,” Dinniman said.

“The bottom line is there has got to be a better way of communicating with customers than simply giving them the run-around via automated phone message. And considering PECO is currently requesting a 6 percent rate increase for customers, I suggest they find it,” he added.

In addition, Dinniman said he planned to work with PECO officials to examine the issues facing local areas that have unreliable service and are consistently among the last to see power restored.

As of Thursday morning, about 10 percent (22,000) of PECO’s 214,100 customers in Chester County were still without power due to the severe thunderstorms and high winds that toppled trees and power lines Tuesday evening. In total, approximately 50,000 customers, most of them in Chester and Delaware counties, remain without power. That is down from the 250,000 who lost power Tuesday night.

According to PECO, most residents are expected to regain power by Friday, but some will not see service restored until the weekend, with some estimates as late as Monday.

Dinniman said his office remains in contact with PECO officials, PennDOT representatives, Chester County emergency services and local municipal leaders in order to coordinate a comprehensive response to the storm-related damage.

“I am grateful for the work crews are doing to get service restored to everyone as soon as possible. In addition, our local PECO representatives are doing an excellent job,” Dinniman said. “But a better effort needs to be made by central headquarters of keeping customers accurately informed of restoration times.”

In addition, Dinniman said his West Chester district office is available to constituents as a center for storm-related information and resources.

Residents can contact Dinniman’s district office by calling (610) 692-2112 or e-mailing andy@pasenate.com. The office, located at historic One North Church Street (corner of Church and Market Streets) in downtown West Chester is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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