Aug 29, 2011
The downed wires, toppled trees, broken utility poles and other remnants of Hurricane Irene are steadily being undone by PPL Electric Utilities crews, who are working to restore service to customers throughout the company’s service area.
With thousands being restored every hour, PPL Electric Utilities has power back on for two-thirds of all customers affected by Irene over the past 36 hours. As of 3 p.m., about 180,000 customers were restored with 100,000 customers remaining without power across the utility’s service area in central and eastern Pennsylvania.
PPL Electric Utilities reports a massive workload – cleanup and electrical repairs – remains ahead for the rest of the week as the company faces nearly 4,000 trouble cases to address. Each individual job represents a handful of customers or a few hundred, and cases are dispatched in order based on the largest number of customers that can be restored.
Presently, some 450 cases are being assessed and worked by crews. Additional jobs will be dispatched once those cases are completed.
The utility expects most customers will be restored within three to five days. A small number of outages, representing possibly 1 percent of affected customers, could linger into the weekend. Hundreds of line and tree crews are working around the clock to restore service with roughly 1,800 employees and contractors actively engaged in the recovery effort.
“We’re making substantial progress, but at the same time, we want to stress the extensive scope of the work still to be done,” said David Bonenberger, director of system emergency. “While our crews are committed to restoring every customer, that backlog of cases will take time for us to work through.”
In addition to PPL Electric Utilities’ own crews and local contractors, the utility is receiving assistance from utility companies in Indiana, Kentucky, Arkansas, Ohio and elsewhere. Behind the scenes, support employees are working extended shifts to ensure field personnel have the information, materials and equipment, and other services they need.
Based on the number of customer outages, Hurricane Irene ranks as the second-worst storm to hit PPL Electric Utilities’ service area over the past 20 years, trailing only Hurricane Isabel of 2003, which affected 495,000 customers. The number of cases is much more than double the amount of work during the storms prior to Memorial Day this past spring.
The Allentown, Honesdale and Pocono areas remain the hardest-hit in terms of outages. Estimated current outages by county and municipality are available at www.pplelectric.com/outage.
Customers without power who have not yet reported their outages are asked to call 1-800-DIAL-PPL (1-800-342-5775) or online at www.pplelectric.com/outage. Please try again if you do not get through the first time. Customers who have already reported outages are asked not to call back for updates so others can get through. The company’s customer contact center was getting 100,000 calls per hour through the day yesterday (8/28). Estimated restoration times for specific areas will be made available as the full assessment is completed.
Customers experiencing prolonged outages can visit PPL Electric Utilities’ online outage center at www.pplelectric.com/outage for information on ice and water distributors.
PPL Electric Utilities, a subsidiary of PPL Corporation (NYSE: PPL), provides electric delivery services to about 1.4 million customers in Pennsylvania and has consistently ranked among the best companies for customer service in the United States. More information is available at www.pplelectric.com.