Letter to the Editor: Need to evaluate power company
With the recent deluge of the most welcome snow, the weather created power outages to over 70,000 Utah Power & Light Company customers. Going into the fourth day, as I write this, there is still over 2,500 customers without power.
In several instances there is room for error and finger pointing at several parties involved. When PacifiCorp took over Utah Power and Light Company one of its first changes it instigated was reduction of personnel. If you ask a person that was released from the company the reduction was 20 percent of the payroll. If you inquire of an employee still working for the utility the percentage of employee reduction was 17 percent. The majority of those dismissed from the company were in the lines and service department.
Before the reduction, in one district there were five line crews. One crew was assigned to maintain the transmission lines, the other four crews was assigned to distribution services, doing such things as connecting new customers, installing outdoor yard lights, replacing rotted poles and those hit by cars, etc. One of those crews was a tree trimming crew that cut the limbs on trees that threatened the distribution lines. Today, there are only three crews assigned in that district. The tree trimming crew was dismissed. In another case, one area had three crews and maintained an area over 75 miles long. Now there is only one crew assigned to that line.
The following year PacifiCorp applied to the Public Service Commission for a rate increase. If PacifiCorp was running short of funding why didn't they apply the reduction savings back into the system? And before the Public Service Commission gave PacifiCorp their rate increase why didn't they make inquiries of the Consumer Protection Agency to see if there were any complaints about PacifiCorp's service to its customer?
Now is the time to review the company's track record and make the necessary adjustments. To prevent another repeat of what has been going on I suggest that our legislators pass a law whereas any company servicing the public, when filing for a rate increase, be required to mail out to all their customers a customer service questionnaire allowing their customers to rate them. And there should be lined space at the bottom of the questionnaire where specific incidents can specified. These should be mailed to the Consumer Protection Agency, then that agency should have a dialogue with the Utah Public Service Commission before the rate increase is granted.