PSC pushes back first meeting of task force created to recommend best practices for utility/cable service outage notifications

MORGANTOWN – The Public Service Commission responded quickly to a PSC staff request to postpone the meeting date for the utility and cable service outages task force.

The PSC created the task force in a May 22 order, and charged it with recommending best practices and universal procedures for notifications regarding utility and cable service outages.

PSC set the first meeting date for no later than June 14. PSC staff asked on Wednesday to move that deadline to June 30. The PSC granted that request in a Friday order.

The creation of the task force followed the PSC’s April 8 opening of a general investigation into such notifications by 14 regulated utilities. The PSC ordered them to how they notify their individual customers when they are affected by service outages.

The companies named were Hope Gas, Cardinal Natural Gas, Mon Power and Potomac Edison, Morgantown Utility Board, Mountaineer Gas, Consumers Gas Utility, Union Oil & Gas, West Virginia-American Water, Beckley Water Co., Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power, Frontier West Virginia and Optimum.

They were instructed to explain how they notify their individual affected customers of service outages; what plans they have, if any, to add, expand, modify, or improve notification systems; describe any technical or physical barriers that exist to providing electronic notifications by email or text message; and describe procedures in place to notify mass communication media of outages.

Staff said the reason for the extension is to better coordinate attendance and participation at the initial meeting and to allow for adequate time to prepare and finalize the task force report to the PSC.

“The granting of these brief extensions will not adversely prejudice the rights or interests of any of the task force participants and will serve to promote administrative efficiency in both the conduct of the task force’s discussions as well as the development of recommendations for best practices and universal procedures as requested by the commission,” staff said.

Under the original timeline, the task force’s report would have been due by July 21. PSC also granted the staff request to push the report date to July 31.

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