Centre residents frustrated by frequent power outages, ask for investigation

Local News

CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Severe weather has heavily impacted Pennsylvanians in recent weeks. On Wednesday, July 7, alone, about 92,000 residents in Centre County faced power outages.

Some residents have had enough, saying they’ve found themselves in the dark even without severe weather, and want answers from their Penelec and West Penn Power companies.

“It’s just unbelievable, I can’t believe that people tolerate this,” said Frank Mellott, a College Township resident and president of the Homeowner’s Association.

Mellott is retired military and has called a number of diverse places home.

“I assure you, all of those places have storms, all of those places have above ground lines, and all of those places have trees, and I’ve never seen electrical problems like I’ve seen here,” said Mellott.

Neighbors Steve Kraycik and Nick Salerno said they’re no longer surprised by power outages.

“We just say, ‘Here we go again!’,” said Kraycik. “Three power outages, significant power outages, in the last six days.”

They said it’s not only when it rains.

“Yes, we had some storms, but today’s power outage, for example, was a perfectly sunny morning, and we still had a significant, three hour power outage,” said Kraycik.

“The wind starts to blow and we go to charge our phones because we’re not sure if the power’s going to cut out for 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 2 hours, lately it’s been 6 ½ hours, 4 ½ hours,” said Salerno.

They said they’re concerned about the frequency and impact.

“It’s certainly not life threatening to me, but it could be for an elderly person, who has oxygen running and things like that,” said Kraycik. “For us, it’s more of the daily inconvenience of no A.C. when it’s 90 degrees out, and the dehumidifiers not working, and I’m wondering if the food in my refrigerator is going to last.”

They’re asking for investigations and solutions from their power companies.

“It’s all caused by the severe winds that come, and they knock trees or branches into the lines,” said Todd Meyers, spokesperson for West Penn Power. “People will say, ‘Why don’t you trim your trees? Why don’t you trim along the lines?’ and the answer is, that we do.”

“We are not accepting of that answer,” said Kraycik.

West Penn said they will spend about $45 million this year trimming trees along 5,000 miles of wire.

“These power lines, they’re miles long,” said Meyers. “Sometimes people say, ‘I don’t see any damage here at my house’, but what they don’t understand is the problem can be miles away from your house.”

Meyers said they work quickly and safely to reconstruct damaged power lines and keep up with weather damage.

“If it’s any solace at all for the people of Centre County, know that the pain is also felt in other places as well, you’re not being singled out, these are widespread storms, that are not only impacting First Energy’s companies, but other companies in Pennsylvania, New York State,” said Meyers. “It’s just a very active period of time.”

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