PUC sets disaster response policy, creates working group
The Public Utility Commission is hoping to make it easier to handle a state of emergency, at least from a utilities standpoint.
In a 5-0 vote, the commission last week settled on a policy for service outage response and public notification. It also created the Critical Infrastructure Interdependency Working Group.
The policy provides guidance for electricity distribution companies after the commission looked at the responses to hurricanes Sandy and Irene, according to a news release.
The commission also addressed the cost/benefit analysis of implementing of the policy by power companies, and perhaps other industries, especially in regard to the proposed storm damage and outage prediction models, according to the release.
The working group will be made up of power companies, telephone companies, water, wastewater and natural-gas distribution utilities with 5,000 or more customers, cable providers, wireless carriers and others. One of the goals is for parties to come to an understanding of their critical interdependencies and how to coordinate restoration of services when more than one is affected in a geographic area.
The group will meet once a year, but no other details have been set.
"Today's action represents further progress in assuring that significant measures are in place to expedite the restoration of electric service for all customers," Commissioner Pamela A. Witmer wrote in the policy statement. "Regardless of whether the outage is the result of a storm, or physical or cyber attack, I am very pleased that the commission is establishing a Critical Infrastructure working group that will bring all utilities and other partners into one room to discuss best practices that will benefit residential and business customers in this commonwealth."