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Pa. lawmaker holds public meeting on prolonged outages

Pa. lawmaker holds public meeting on prolonged outages

READING, Pa. - We may be in the midst of a mild winter, but few can forget the string of storms that wreaked havoc across our area last fall.

Thousands of people were left in the dark for days. If you were one of them, a local lawmaker wants to hear from you.

Pa. Rep. Tom Caltagirone, D-Berks Co., invited the public to speak their minds about electric reliability at the Schmidt Training and Technology Center on the campus of Reading Area Community College on Thursday.

There were three natural disasters in a row starting with Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and then the Halloween weekend snowstorm.  Power outages affected so many.

"And the response time, a lot of people were waiting two days, five days, seven days, twelve days," said Caltagirone, who has been working on the electricity issue for months.

Caltagirone even drafted a law to hold utility companies responsible for their response times.

"Every kilowatt hour that you're out they have to give you a credit on the next bill," said Caltagirone, who added that it won't become law. "When they saw that I put in the legislation, it's a shot across the bow, is it, going to go anywhere probably not. Got their attention, made them a little nervous."

He has also held hearings in Harrisburg.

"Locally, I promised the people that I would give them the opportunity," said Caltagirone. "Not everybody could come to Harrisburg. Tonight's their night to be heard."

At RACC, people can tell MetEd, the Public Utility Commission and consumer groups how they suffered without power.

"If you don't have it you can't take a bath, you can't cook, you can't wash, you can't see at night," said Caltagirone.

He said those were the types of calls his office received in the fall, and he hopes plenty of people will share those experiences.

"We all pay for the service," said Caltagirone. "I want it to be reliable and dependable. I want to make sure that they get the message."

Caltagirone said the Public Utility Commission is working on a report and said when it is complete, it should have recommendations for the utility companies to improve their service.

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