Utah Power Customers Vent Frustrations

Utah Power Customers Vent Frustrations

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John Daley reportingChronic outages. Aging infrastructure. Poor maintenance. A group of Utah Power customers vented their frustrations tonight in a meeting with company officials.

Remember the outages many Utahns suffered during the big day-after Christmas storm? Dozens of residents in the East Millcreek neighborhood say for them, problems like that are par for the course.

For many Utahns it's hard to forget the monster storm that hit December 26th. For some, it wasn't the snowfall that was most memorable, but the numerous and lengthy power outages.

Dave Ward, who lives in East Millcreek, says with his out-of-state daughter and her family here for the holidays the outage ruined Christmas.

Dave Ward/ East Millcreek Resident: "They had a brand new infant. The power went out for three days. What could we do?"

Ward, an engineer who worked for Utah Power for years before retiring, can rattle off a list of problems with aging infrastructure: Badly bowed power poles, equipment that dates back to the 1960s-- including old wooden pins that connect with power lines.

Dave Ward/ East Millcreek Resident: "If this old equipment fails and you lose the pin, there goes your power line."

Wednesday night a meeting with Utah Power officials got testy at times. Over a hundred East Millcreek homes are being affected by chronic outages, and residents in part blame a lack of investment in the infrastructure by former parent company Pacific Corp in the 90s. Utility officials don't deny the charge.

Kimball Hansen/ Utah Power Spokesman: "Since the company was acquired by Scottish Power in 1999, significantly more money has been invested in the infrastructure."

More that $200 million on the Wasatch Front alone, according to the utility.

Tonight Utah Power officials promised aggressive new measures--stepped up maintenance and new fuses for East Millcreek. But some residents remain skeptical.

Dave Ward: "I think they've got a shortcoming on their engineering and their understanding of how circuit breakers work."

Utah Power officials strongly disagree with that.

They say they can't promise there will never be any outages here again, but the neighborhood will see a lot fewer outages.

And to help with communication, they gave residents their direct phone numbers to call in case there are problems.

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