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Anger Over 'False Hope' Boils Over on PPL Site

Customers who remain without power from the Lehigh Valley to the Poconos are venting their frustration via social media and turning to PPL's Facebook page, where the utility company is posting updates about its power restoration efforts.

Although weather forecasters warned last week that Hurricane Sandy's high winds could result in lengthy power outages, the blackout that has now lasted for close to four days in some parts of the area is causing confusion and frustration for many local residents who remain in the dark.

That is evident on PPL's Facebook page, where the utility has been posting frequent updates about progress on its restoration efforts for customers in a 29-county area that includes the Lehigh Valley.

Locally, more than 2,500 customers in Lower Macungie Township, 114 in Alburtis and 28 in Macungie  remain in the dark as of Friday.

And patience is wearing thin for some customers whose homes are growing colder by the hour.

In particular, electric customers are voicing growing anger over incorrect "ERTs" (estimated restoration times) that PPL has been providing via its Outage Center.

"No excuse to have ours postponed each night for 2 in a row now," wrote Justin Adam Burkhardt on the PPL Facebook page. "It's either lies, appeasement or false hope or incompetence. We are freezing and waiting still in fountain hill!"

Added Sonia Carballo on the same thread: "When you issue out ERTs people think its an exact time (give an hour or two). Don't give out ERTs until workers get there an assess the situation. You're only upsetting people!"

And Tom Moran said he was disappointed not to see power crews in Tatamy and Forks Township after receiving a message stating that crews were on site.

"Dont just send messages to make us feel some glimmer of hope and your not even there," he wrote.

Facebook user T'Shawn Rivers questioned whether "politics are playing a role in who receives service."

"There are a lot of upset people in Paradise Township with illnesses, fixed incomes and limited mobility who have been without power for five days," she wrote in a message posted to the PPL Facebook page timeline. "Food spoiled, money wasted. This is just not right. And the ERT schedule keeps changing. This is just not right."

Some customers, however, defended the utillity company for working around the clock to restore power to hundreds of thousands in the aftermath of the historic storm.

"You need to understand they are dealing with major issues in a lot of areas," commented Facebook user Bill Cuthbertson, in a reply that received seven "thumbs up" from others. "After a storm like Sandy, a week without power in the grand scheme of things is nothing. We should be grateful for the hard effort being made to restore our power--as hard as it is--because it's the right thing to do."

How would you rate PPL's post-storm response so far? Are you frustrated with the information the company has provided, or with a lack thereof? Tell us in the comments.

H smith November 02, 2012 at 06:53 PM
We are without power in lower mac, but in our location we expected it. I do think part of the frustration is that ppl seems to do a poor job of restoring power in normal storms. That being said folks need to start preparing as best they can when these events are known in advance.
Ron Beitler November 02, 2012 at 07:25 PM
The estimates are just that.... ESTIMATES. As crews are out they discover more damage and estimates can change. Remember just one circuit is MILES of line. You can take issue with the bureaucracy of PPL.... maybe with the estimates but please remember they ARE estimates... and make sure your frustration doesn't boil over to the crews on the ground. My father is a lineman. He's worked I'm guessing about 60 hours since the storm. They are out there in the rain/cold/wet 16 hours at a time stopping only to sleep. They are working in the conditions, 2-3 stories up working with voltages that if they slip up and make a mistake could cost them their lives. Please remember that.
Sheriffchris November 02, 2012 at 09:11 PM
ERTS are just an estimation ...even...a scientific guess......as compared to a "swag" which is a "Scientific Wild A$$ Guess" ....I'm sure that PPL has no intention of enraging anyone....they just don't always know
Holly Decker November 02, 2012 at 11:15 PM
I am so thankful for all the ppl workers! We just got power back last night. With a baby and toddler staying in our home was trying, but we were warned ahead of time there would be long outages. We got our power back sooner than expected. THANK YOU to all the workers who are taking so much time away from their families to help keep my family warm!
tamarya November 06, 2012 at 01:30 PM
There are miles of powerlines and miles of trees. PPL is out cleaning all that mess up to restore power. As for food spoiling and money wasted that is poor preperation on the homeowner. I left my refrigerator and freezer run empty so I lost nothing. But if anyone wants to blame anyone, blame the township because they are the ones that want these trees up to begin with.

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