TOBYHANNA TOWNSHIP –
Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne) joined other lawmakers in Monroe County on Thursday to discuss the serious implications of power outages and what can be done to better prepare and improve the reliability of Pennsylvania’s electrical infrastructure. The hearing was organized by the House Majority Policy Committee and featured the testimony of emergency responders, local tourism and government officials, and utility company representatives.
“The hearing was very helpful because it gave all of us a full understanding of the impact these outages have on our communities and how power might be restored more quickly,” said Toohil. “We heard first-hand accounts from those on the front lines who work so hard to turn our lights back on when a weather emergency occurs.”
Local emergency responders testified about the problems they experienced due to downed power lines that prevented them from reopening roads or reaching people in need. They suggested having the ability to contact the utility company and learn in a timely manner whether or not specific downed wires were live, which would have sped up their efforts.
Recent outages in the Poconos also resulted in economic losses for businesses and workers. A local tourism representative detailed the negative economic effects that resulted from the loss of power at local resorts and entertainment enterprises. Workers were unable to reach their jobs and businesses were forced to turn away customers.
Utility company executives and regulators testified about the steps that have been taken to prevent similar situations in the future. One speaker representing a local electric utility company described its efforts to trim more trees in order to prevent falling branches from knocking out power lines. He said the budget for this initiative has nearly tripled from $800,000 to approximately $2.3 million.
The feasibility of using underground power lines in an effort to prevent outages due to downed trees was also discussed. Testifiers noted the cost for laying underground power lines can be 10 times more expensive than traditional power lines, which would increase costs for electric customers. We learned they are looking at other patent-pending technologies that could reduce the likelihood that a downed tree branch would disrupt electrical service.
The full video of the hearing will be available for viewing in the near future at www.pagoppolicy.com
?Representative Tarah Toohil
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Rep. Toohil’s Office