CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The state Public Service Commission on Friday ordered 12 West Virginia utilities to evaluate their preparedness for, and response to, the devastating windstorms that swept through the state during the past few weeks -- and to say how they will prepare for future events.
More than half a million West Virginians lost power because of the June 29 derecho windstorm and subsequent storms. Some utility customers remained without power and water for nearly two weeks after the initial storm.
In its order, the PSC acknowledged "that the utilities, their employees, and their contractors worked long hours in their efforts to restore and stabilize utility service."
Commissioners went on to say, though, that, "The Commission also is aware that a significant majority of West Virginians were without electricity for some period of time and in many instances, long durations. The restoration effort and the customer outages occurred during a period of time with extreme temperatures, further exacerbating the hardships experienced as a result of the derecho."
The utilities have 30 days to submit their reports.
Commissioners said they require responses from Appalachian Power Co., Wheeling Power Co., Monongahela Power Co., The Potomac Edison Co., Harrison Rural Electrification Association Inc, the Craig-Botetourt Electric Cooperative, the Black Diamond Power Co., the cities of New Martinsville and Philippi, West Virginia-American Water Co., Beckley Water Co. and Frontier Communications.
Also, commissioners "encouraged" the West Virginia Rural Water Association, West Virginia Small Public Utilities Association and the West Virginia Municipal League to canvas the small utilities among their groups and respond to the PSC.
The PSC's order outlines 11 issues the companies must report on, from estimating costs of restoration services to providing a timeline of restoration efforts.