Pennsylvania PUC takes steps to improve monitoring of electric system reliability

August 30, 2002 — The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) Thursday adopted several recommendations for improving how it monitors the reliability of the state’s electric distribution system, including tightening reliability performance standards for utilities, establishing additional reporting requirements for companies and streamlining the Commission’s internal review process.

“This report represents a first step toward improving the reliability of electric distribution service in the Commonwealth,” PUC Chairman Glen R. Thomas said. “Ensuring reliable service must be the No. 1 priority for this Commission and for our regulated electric companies.

“Working together, we can provide the Commonwealth’s homes and businesses with the high quality of service that they deserve.”

The recommendations include:
* Tightening minimum reliability performance standards;

* Developing clear rules for reporting service outages, so the appropriate data is included in reliability calculations;

* Requiring monthly summary reports with more detailed information on service outages, enabling the PUC to respond more quickly to potential reliability problems;

* Including costs for system maintenance and tree trimming in annual reliability reports;

* Preparing a PUC annual report on electric service reliability that would be available to the public;

* Assigning the overall responsibility for monitoring electric service reliability to a single PUC bureau; and

* Establishing a PUC oversight group to ensure that the efforts to improve the monitoring process are implemented.

The recommendations approved today stem from a comprehensive review by a PUC internal working group. The group presented its findings and recommendations to Commissioners in July. Today’s recommendations also incorporate some suggestions regarding reliability from a June report issued by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee.

Some of the recommendations can be implemented internally by a PUC order or policy statement. Others, however, will require amendments to existing regulations and must comply with the Regulatory Review Act, which includes providing the public an opportunity to comment on proposed changes.

The Commission’s focus is distribution-system reliability, which means individual customer outages, complaints, and response and restoration timeframes. It does not extend to the power supply (generation), or to the dispatch of that power supply on an intrastate or interstate basis (transmission).

A complete copy of the PUC working group’s report is available on the Commission’s website on the main page under Special Announcements.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission ensures safe, reliable and reasonably priced electric, natural gas, water, telephone and transportation service for Pennsylvania consumers, by regulating public utilities and by serving as responsible stewards of competition.

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