MIDDLE SMITHFIELD TOWNSHIP — The lights are back on but some power customers are upset about the response to Hurricane Sandy last month.
Dozens of people packed a room at the Fernwood Hotel and Convention center near Marshalls Creek for the special meeting.
Public Utility Commission members and other state officials listened as speaker after speaker took the podium. Some were municipal leaders, concerned about how utility companies PPL and Met-Ed handled widespread outages after Hurricane Sandy.
In Monroe County alone, more than 75,000 homes and businesses were without power for eight days.
The major complaint from everyone was a lack of communication.
“What our residents needed most of all was information. That was one thing we couldn’t give them. I was constantly getting calls about downed trees and questions about power restoration,” said Annette Atkinson, a Middle Smithfield Township supervisor.
“You dial those 800 numbers, you don’t get any place, and we all know that,” said Matthew Osterberg, a Pike County commissioner.
Some complained about a lack of maintenance.
One man spoke out about what he called a problem substation that caused major problems.
“We can do all of the pontificating we want about the state and the system and everything else, but this particular area has one boo-boo, and it seems to be that substation, and if it’s trees I don’t care how tall the trees around it are. Cut the trees back far enough that they can’t do this to us anymore,” said Rom Trimble of Saw Creek.
“Why was Mount Pocono, their power was restored and that’s PPL, and we have Met-Ed up here and again we had no power? And we had no way to communicate, no way to get an answer. When you called, they would put you over to the recording,” said Denese Depeza, who manages A Pocono Country Place.
A spokeswoman for the PUC said the commission will consider all the comments before deciding if the utility companies should change some policies or if maybe they should face fines.