- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 31, 2016

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The state’s high court has ordered the release of investigative records concerning electric utility PPL’s response to a 2011 power outage that resulted in a $60,000 fine from utility regulators.

The state Supreme Court’s 4-2 decision last week reinstated an Office of Open Records order to release the records. A group of news organizations had appealed a lower-court ruling backing the Public Utility Commission’s effort to keep the records secret.

The investigative records include an anonymous letter from a PPL employee that said a crew restoring power in a high-priority area was diverted to a lower-priority area during the snowstorm, which cut power to about 388,000 customers. More than 131,000 customers were without electricity for more than 24 hours.

Justice Max Baer’s opinion said utility law is clear in allowing the public to see what the utility commission considered before entering a settlement agreement with a public utility. He said redactions may be used to shield a confidential source’s identity.

In 2013, Allentown’s the Morning Call newspaper and the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader separately sought utility commission records involving the case under the Right-to-Know Law.

PPL, formally PPL Electric Utilities Corp., is based in Allentown. It provides electricity for 1.4 million customers in eastern and central Pennsylvania. It settled the case with the utility commission and paid the fine, but details of the commission’s informal investigation have remained confidential.

It’s unclear when the records would be released or even whether the utility commission plans to release them. On Tuesday, a spokesman would say only “we are carefully reviewing the options available to the commission.”

The Associated Press is among other news organizations that joined the appeal for the records: Calkins Media Inc., Lancaster Newspapers Inc., PA Media Group, Philadelphia Media Network LLC, Pocono Mountains Media Group, Reading Eagle Co. and Times News LLC.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide