HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today adopted a policy statement intended to improve utility communication with customers including recommending use of social media and other new technology.
The Commission voted 5-0 to establish guidelines for how utilities should communicate with the public during outages to ensure that, timely and accurate information is provided to customers. The policy statement contains a series of methods for improving the timeliness and effectiveness of notice to customers during an outage, including the use of social media, e-mail and text messaging.
The Commission understands that not all utilities have the technological or fiscal ability to comply with all of the recommendations in the policy statement. The policy statement establishes an expectation of regular communication with customers with suggestions of various ways that this could be accomplished.
The policy statement applies to electric and natural gas distribution utilities as well as water and wastewater utilities. The policy statement is designed to:
- Establish acceptable forms of notification to reflect technological advances;
- Have utilities apply the principles of the National Incident Management System and its Incident Command System when managing widespread service outages;
- Have utilities strive to adopt uniform communication throughout the company;
- Ensure crisis communications plans are in writing and consistent with best practices; and
- Encourage utilities to work across geographic regions if applicable.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities to ensure safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protect the public interest; educate consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; further economic development; and foster new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner. For recent news releases, audio of select Commission proceedings or more information about the PUC, visit our website at www.puc.state.pa.us.
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Docket No. Docket No. M-2008-2065532