Ralph B. DavisManaging Editor
July 12, 2012
CHARLESTON (AP) — State regulators and electric utilities are wrangling over proposed service reliability targets that the companies would have to meet.
The proposed targets stem from a Public Service Commission investigation of widespread power outages during a major snowstorm in December 2009. They are based on three indices that grade how frequently electrical systems go down, how long those systems are down, and how long customers are without power.
The utilities say the targets proposed by the PSC’s staff are too stringent and could not be achieved.
In a recent filing, Mon Power and Potomac Edison says the PSC staff’s proposal contains several references to requiring individual circuits to meet the targets. The companies say that would require major changes to their system that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, including new substations and rebuilding existing circuits.
“We’re still working our way through that proceeding to try to reach a point of agreement,” said Appalachian Power spokeswoman Jeri Matheney told the Charleston Gazette. “We need targets that, if not achieved now, are achievable at some point.”
PSC staff and the Consumer Advocate Division say little, if any improvements would result from the utilities’ proposals, which are less stringent that the PSC staff’s targets.
“Very little, if any improvement over the current issues causing outages will change and the infrastructure will continue to deteriorate,” Donald E. Walker, a technical analyst with the PSC staff’s engineering division, wrote in a recent filing.
Another filing by David A. Sade, the Consumer Advocate Division’s attorney, noted Walker’s report.
“Maintenance of, if not simply catching up to the status quo, should not be the ‘target’ which satisfies the requirements of the commission’s ‘electric rules’ and best protects utility customers from the disaster which befell them in the winter of 2009-2010,” Sade wrote.
The filings were submitted before the June 29 storm and smaller subsequent storms that knocked out thousands of customers’ power across the state.