How Embarrassing

Here is the lead paragraph of yesterday’s Charleston Gazette story on the open hearing at the PSC on the 2012 blackout:

In the aftermath of the June 29 derecho, thieves stole 20 backup generators from Frontier Communications. Now a company executive wants to see harsher penalties for such crimes committed during a state of emergency.

Here’s what I wrote three weeks ago in a post titled “WV PSC Not Interested in Innovation and Reliability“:

One of the obvious ways that WV’s electric companies, but also WV’s phone and water companies, can plan to increase the reliability of WV’s public services is to expand solar power and battery storage for power customers, especially for critical services.

Frontier telephone company provides a clear example. Frontier’s remote switching systems require supplemental electric power from local power companies in order for the land line phone system to function. When Mon Power blacks out in my area, Frontier goes to all its switching centers, some located in remote areas, with no security, and operates portable gasoline generators. Local thieves, knowing that people are desperate for generators, often steal these unsecured generators, cutting vital phone service and ultimately raising phone rates from the costs imposed by the losses of these generators. Might the WV PSC be interested in technologies that would allow Frontier to provide backup power in remote locations using small PV arrays and minimal battery storage for the small amount of power these switching centers require?

I had filed to intervene in the blackout investigation case, but the WV PSC rejected my petition saying it was “outside the scope” of their investigation.  Really?  When I specifically stated in my petition that my experience using my PV/battery system might have useful applications in these kinds of situations?


So what did Frontier’s Dana Waldo suggest as a way to improve reliability of Frontier’s systems?  Tougher laws from the legislature for stealing generators.  That’s creative thinking.  That’s depending on innovation and business initiative.  Oh, yeah.  Mr. Waldo is the former CEO of Appalachian Power, the Ohio owned power company whose distribution system failed under 5 inches of snow in southern WV in 2009.  He had lots of experience with non-innovative, non-creative thinking at APCo.

Perhaps the WV PSC will decide that West Virginians, and West Virginia businesses, have some ideas and experiences that might be useful for improving WV’s utility reliability.  In their September 17 order, the PSC noted that it would be appropriate to hold public comment meetings around the state.  In that order, however, the Commissioners also stated that they had not made the decision to hold those public comment meetings.

If you think the PSC needs some help understanding how to fix the mess that out of state companies have made of our electrical system, why don’t you drop the PSC a line and tell them that they need to hold public comment meetings in case number 12-0993-E-T-W-GI.  I did.

One thought on “How Embarrassing

  1. I think its unbelievable that the PSC would not even consider your comment, that is ridiculous and narrow minded in my opinion. To dismiss solar power as an alternative fuel is to accept that only fossil fuels can be viable for back up power with all its inherent faults and social costs. Isn’t this hearing about the black-out? Why are they even discussing thievery other than to draw attention away from the intended target which is the utilities lack of substantial maintenance to their service lines.

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