Tuesday, June 03, 2008

PSO Drops the Ball Again

For the second time in six months, I am sitting a coffee shop trying to do business while I wait for the utility companies to get my home office back in operation. It is frustrating and frankly I am quite angry about it.

I am also somewhat mystified. I have lived in Tulsa on and off for most of my adult life. My wife and I have been in Metro Tulsa since 1980 this time around. The weather has not gotten worse. Oklahoma is notorious for weather extremes. Ice storms like this winters' and wind storms like this weeks' occur on a rare but regular basis. Every decade or so we go through a period of very unsettled weather. But, in past decades we have not had the number or length of power and other utility outages that we have in the past couple of years. I cannot remember a time in Tulsa when we went for days without power.

This leads to the obvious question. What has changed? The utility companies. Rates have gone up consistently at the same time service levels have dropped. This winter, a crew from Southern Oklahoma fixed the broken power pole in my neighbor's back yard about a week after it went down. They did it, not because PSO had dispatched them, but rather because we flagged them down and told them about our elderly neighbor who had had no heat for a week.

These very decent small town utility workers had the equipment and the crew to replace a pole and restore power and they just did it. It wasn't rocket science. People, equipment, placement. Very straightforward. Just doing their job. Maybe that's what AEP/PSO needs now, enough crews and equipment to respond to their customer's needs when things go south.

AEP/PSO's emergency response plans, field staffing levels, profits and executive salaries need to be examined in light of two disastrous but entirely predictable power outages in six months. I sincerely hope that someone from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission reads this.


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