The two major storms were the largest impact cause of the disruption to obtaining scheduled meter reads. That conclusion is supported by the experience of sister company, West Penn Power, which experienced all the same integration issues (system integration, renumbering, meter reading restructuring) as the Companies experienced, but did not experience the same level of damage and widespread outages from these two super storms. Consequently, West Penn has not had the level of customer complaint and billing issues that the Companies and their customers experienced.
Looks like FirstEnergy wasn't exactly being honest with the Commission.
The very next day, two complaints were filed with the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission alleging that FirstEnergy subsidiaries West Penn Power and Penelec have not been reading meters in that state either.
The complaints were filed by the Utility Workers Union on behalf of customers who also happen to be union members. The complaints add to the meter reading issues FirstEnergy's West Virginia and Maryland customers have been experiencing to create a multi-state trifecta of willful corporate malfeasance:
UWUA brings this complaint in its capacity as the representative of meter readers and other Penelec employees who are being directed by Penelec to continually and willfully violate the Commission's meter reading regulations and the provisions of Penelec's own tariff.
UWUA states on information and belief that Penelec routinely estimates bills for thousands of residential customers three, four, or even five consecutive months when there are no exigent circumstances and no problems with utility personnel gaining access to the customer's meter.
UWUA states on information and belief that Penelec fails to read meters as required because it has failed to fill vacant meter-reading positions and has otherwise failed to properly staff its meter reading function. That is, Penelec has made a business decision to save the expense of hiring additional meter readers and instead issue numerous consecutive estimated bills to residential customers in violation of the Commission's regulations.
Shame on you, FirstEnergy!