Take a look at FirstEnergy's "derecho" NOAA map showing storm wind speeds:
Couple this with FirstEnergy's claim that the 500kV transmission tower that was taken down by "90 mph winds" during Friday night's storm was located in Ellenboro, along Rt. 50, between Parkersburg and Clarksburg. FirstEnergy's own map shows that maximum gusts in that area of West Virginia were between 20 - 40 mph. A 20 mph gust took down one of FirstEnergy's 500kV steel lattice transmission towers? How deteriorated and poorly maintained are these structures anyhow? It's too bad FE has already cut up and hauled away the evidence, most likely without bothering to determine the reason for the failure. FirstEnergy is incredibly lucky that the tower which failed was located in someone's hay field, and not within the fall zone of someone's home. Perhaps the PSC should investigate the reason for the tower failure in order to protect citizens with other FirstEnergy towers in their backyards, and certainly before approving more FirstEnergy transmission lines in the state.
FirstEnergy has neglected to tell you that they're currently embroiled in a PSC case regarding the setting of new reliability standards... and whining that it's too expensive to meet reliability standards that are expected in other states. For some reason, FirstEnergy and AEP think West Virginia is some third world country that doesn't deserve a reliable electric distribution system that might cut into corporate profit margins.
The West Virginia Consumer Advocate filed premonitory comments in that case on June 25, just 4 days before the most recent electric reliability disaster in West Virginia.
"Recollection of the public outrage over the December 2009 outages, the repercussions from which have led the parties through the various proceedings addressing the reliability of electric service in West Virginia is all that should be necessary for ratification of the plan which best avoids a repeat of that disaster."
CAD and staff contend that these kind of widespread outages are predictable and preventable. Will we ever know how much of the current damage was a product of poor maintenance flowing from company O&M cuts to increase profit, and how much was actually unavoidable?
CAD says it's not rocket science:
"Make no mistake: the outages were calamitous for many of the thousands of electric utility customers affected by the snowstorm that was an entirely predictable event. (It snows in West Virginia: sometimes accumulations are significant; sometimes that snow is wet. The ability to predict the type and severity of the storm that landed on West Virginia in December 2009 might involve meteorological science, but it sure ain’t rocket science.)"
West Virginia also experiences summer storms, often severe. Take your "derecho" and play it on Broadway, FirstEnergy!
The CAD's comments are short and sweet and I highly recommend you read them. Staff's comments are a bit longer and a little more technical, but also worth reading if you've got a bit more time.
In 2011, the WV Legislature adopted a resolution requiring the PSC to investigate the condition of one of FirstEnergy's transmission lines in the area of the recently failed tower, and order rebuilding as necessary. The PSC blew both the legislature and reliability issues off last year when their own staff filed a motion to require WV utilities to submit evaluations of their high-voltage transmission systems in the state. Instead, the PSC only required FirstEnergy to file a report, as they had ordered in the TrAIL case in 2008. How much fault does the WV PSC have in the transmission tower failure by not carrying out the recommendations of the legislature, and by not requiring our electric utilities to meet reliability standards? Heads will roll, so FirstEnergy's fat cats are busy spinning their failure as a dramatic "act of God."
While your main concern right now may be getting your power back on and getting your life back on track, the aftermath of this massive FirstEnergy reliability failure will live on, both in your electric bill, and at the WV PSC.