Last updated: February 20. 2013 12:40AM - 470 Views

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The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission will hold a public forum on Jan. 10, to hear from the state's electric utilities that were affected by Superstorm Sandy.

The special forum will examine utilities' pre-planning measures as the late-October storm approached the East Coast, as well as their communications with customers and efforts to restore service during and after the storm.

Our agency takes very seriously its duty to ensure safe and reliable electricity service throughout the state and we are always striving to improve our storm response, said Commission Chairman Robert F. Powelson. In the last year, the PUC has taken several steps to ensure that the state's storm response efforts continue to improve. We are continuing our examination of the response to Superstorm Sandy and will take any steps necessary to ensure the response to the next storm is even better.

Hurricane Sandy is the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, affecting 24 states. At the height of the hurricane, more than 8.3 million customers were without power. Hurricane Sandy hit Pennsylvania on Oct. 29. At the peak of the storm, 1.2 million Pennsylvanians were without power. Throughout the course of the event, more than 1.8 million in the state lost power at one time or another with 90 percent of customers having their power restored by Nov. 3.

The hearing is an offshoot of the PUC's annual summer and winter reliability assessment meetings, which are held in advance of the summer cooling and winter heating seasons. The forum will be from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. in Hearing Room 1 in the Commonwealth Keystone Building, 400 North St., Harrisburg. The public can attend but there will be no chance for them to participate, said PUC spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher.

The commission invited seven electric utilities to participate including UGI Utilities Inc. and PPL Electric Utilities Corp. The utilities will be asked to address several matters, including what could have been done better.

Joseph Swope, a UGI spokesman, said these types of forums are beneficial for power companies as they get to share information and hear how other companies responded to outages and what worked best and what didn't work.

We think these sessions are very valuable, Swope said.

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