Longing for the day of Penelec’s service

The following represents my opinion on the adequacy of power line maintenance in the Blair County area.

How I yearn for the good old days when, if you had an electrical power outage, you would simply call the fine folks at the Altoona Penelec office, and the call was always answered by a compassionate, friendly individual who was anxious to help you with your needs.

That individual was very knowledgeable about the power line grid in the Altoona area and was able to determine how best to restore power to your home.

You could also explain any health issues so as to ensure speedy service if an abnormal maintenance workload should occur. Maintenance crews were quickly dispatched, and most likely the repair crew would call and announce that they were on the way.

If they were unable to restore power quickly, you were called and the reason for the delay was explained, along with an estimate for restoration of service.

After the power was restored, you would usually receive a call asking if your power was, in fact, back on and that everything was OK.

Compare that with the service now after Penelec’s merger with First Energy and the consolidation of line maintenance away from the Altoona office.

First of all, there are no published numbers anywhere that would allow you to contact the Altoona office. You must call the 888 number and are connected to a computer asking only for your home telephone number.

From that information, the maintenance office makes all of its decisions on how to approach the issue at hand.

The computer may ask if you want to be contacted when your power has been restored, but somehow that never happened when I opted for it.

In the 25 June outage, crews responded quickly to the downed lines in the Point View area of Catharine Township.

By morning, the lines had been replaced, but the power was not restored to the Short Mountain area or any homes along Route 22 in the Canoe Creek area. Later in the day, 12 hours after the outage began, other crews arrived and worked on the Route 866 lines and removed downed trees from the line that serves Short Mountain.

At 3:30 p.m., power was restored to the Canoe Creek area, and the maintenance crews left the area without restoring power to the Short Mountain area.

After all, 3:30 p.m. is a normal day quitting time.

A day later, I checked the Short Mountain line where it exits the Route 866 main line and found that the circuit breakers were still open. Here, more than 36 hours after the initial call for service, we sat with no power and no explanations.

I’m sure that many of the fine folks at the Penelec Altoona office, who provided such superior and compassionate service in the past, are still there and would, if given the chance, provide the same exceptional service in the Blair County area that was evident before the First Energy merger.

David C. Imler, Williamsburg