One Day Later, More than 400,000 Pennsylvanians Still Without Power

  • Scott Detrow

Nearly a half-million Pennsylvanians remain powerless this morning, due to damage from Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene.
The Public Utility Commission says more than 700,000 people lost power this weekend. That’s out of 5 million Pennsylvania electric consumers.
The PUC has sent out a press release offering tips for how to get through a power outage. The document includes phone numbers for six power companies.

HARRISBURG – In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, the state Public Utility Commission (PUC) is reporting about 443,974 customers remain without electricity at this time and is providing tips for those residents who have lost electrical power.
As of 5 a.m. today, about 443,974 Pennsylvania electric customers remain without electricity. At the height of the storm, about 768,000 customers were without power. Pennsylvania has about 5 million electric customers. The numbers only represent PUC jurisdictional utilities. Commission continues to work with the companies to ensure prompt restoration of service.
Restoration for most customers is estimated to occur sometime Wednesday. Priority restoration is given to locations that can restore larger numbers of customers and high priority customers such as nursing homes, emergency shelters, emergency governmental services and hospitals. Call your utility for the most up-to-date information. The following areas are impacted:

  • PECO: 231,374 electric outages – 1-800-841-4141
  • PPL Electric: 133,151 outages – 1-800-DIAL-PPL (1-800-342-5775)
  • Met-Ed: 63,123 outages – 1-888-544-4877
  • Penelec: 13,303 outages – 1-888-544-4877
  • Pike County Light & Power: 3,423 – 1-877-434-4100
  • UGI Electric: 9,600 outages – 1-800-962-1212

The PUC offers the following tips for residents during a power outage:
When the lights go out

  • Call your utility. Don’t expect that others in your neighborhood have already called. Due to the severity of some of the damage, some areas may be without power until the weekend. Your utility can provide you with the most up-to-date information on when to expect power to be restored.
  • Check on elderly neighbors and those with special needs who might need additional assistance.
  • Use a phone that does not require electricity to work. A cellular phone or corded phone will work. Remember a cordless phone won’t work without electricity.
  • Turn off lights and electrical appliances except for the refrigerator and freezer. When power comes back on, it may come back with momentary “surges” or “spikes” that can damage equipment. After you turn the lights off, turn one lamp on so you will know when power is restored. Wait at least 15 minutes after power is restored before turning on other appliances.
  • Only use a flashlight or battery-operated lanterns for emergency lighting. Do not use candles.
  • Avoid opening the refrigerator and freezer.  Food can stay cold for a couple of hours if the doors remain closed. For longer outages, plan to place refrigerator and freezer items in coolers with ice. If in doubt, throw it out. The state Department of Agriculture has more information on food safety athttp://agriculture.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_6_2_75292_10297_0_43/AgWebsite/OrganizationDetail.aspx?name=Bureau-of-Food-Safety-and-Laboratory-Services&navid=34&parentnavid=0&orgid=13&
  • If you are going to use a generator, do not run it inside a home or garage. If you use a generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Do not connect a generator to a home’s electrical system. Generators also should not be run near any open windows or other areas where carbon monoxide may travel into the home such as a air vents.

Driving during a power outage

  • Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic signals will stop working during an outage, creating traffic congestion. If traffic lights are out, treat all intersections as four-way stops. It’s required by law for safety.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and sagging trees with broken limbs.

Downed power lines

  • Don’t touch or get near any fallen lines.
  • Stay away from objects or puddles in contact with downed power lines.
  • Notify the utility company.
  • Never try to remove trees or limbs from power lines.

Flooding and electric power

  • Avoid downed utility lines and standing water because “hot wires” could exist below the water line.
  • If your home has sustained flood or water damage, and you can safely get to the main breaker or fuse box, turn off the power.
  • Do not turn off the power if you are wet or standing in water.
  • If electrical service has not been disconnected at the home, avoid standing water, again there may be some hot wires below the water line.
  • Submerged fuse boxes and all of their contents must be replaced. Allow time for drying and then spray them with contact cleaner or lubricant.
  • Don’t turn the electricity back on until the whole system has been checked by a licensed electrician.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities to ensure safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protect the public interest; educate consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; further economic development; and foster new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.
For recent news releases, audio of select Commission proceedings or more information about the PUC, visit our website at www.puc.state.pa.us.

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