Liars, damn liars and AEP

Appalachian Electric Power, which should be named "Always Erratic Power," stopped publishing updates on its website Friday at 10 a.m. when the chart still listed 2,600 Floyd County homes without power. According to the web site, power to those homes would be restored by midnight Friday. They lied. Fire and police officials tell me at least 1,000 homes in the county remain without power and many of them have been told it will be Monday before the electricity comes back on.

Appalachian Electric Power, which should be named “Always Erratic Power,” stopped publishing updates on its website Friday at 10 a.m. when the chart still listed 2,600 Floyd County homes without power.

According to the web site, power to those homes would be restored by midnight Friday.

They lied. Fire and police officials tell me at least 1,000 homes in the county remain without power and many of them have been told it will be Monday before the electricity comes back on.

AEP’s performance during the ice storm that knocked out power to 5,000 county homes (and more than 11,000 in the region) has been shameless and deceptive. They’ve lied to their customers so many times that they might as well be part of the Bush administration.

Last summer, AEP launched what they claimed was a “comprehensive” program to trim back tree branches near power lines to prevent just the sort of outage we experienced last week.

Yet hundreds, if not thousands, of tree branches came crashing down on power lines throughout the region. We received several automated phone calls from AEP last summer claiming tree trimming crews would be working in our area of the county yet we never saw a single crew and the only trees trimmed around the power line that enters the rear of our property were cut by me.

Like too many big corporations today, AEP’s focus is on profit, not service, and they care more about “return to shareholders” than delivering a product that works.

Their profits, and corresponding return to shareholders, hit $181 million in the fourth quarter of last year yet AEP wants Virginia’s permission to hike electric rates to astronomical levels. When they get that rate increase, we will pay through the nose not for better service but so some coupon clipper in West Palm Beach can buy a newer Bentley.

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2 Responses

  1. We’re just on the other side of the Blue Ridge and we had significant icing during the storm, although it warmed up by the end of the day to melt all but the ice at high elevations on north flacing slopes. We never lost power. I’m certain AEP is prioritizing tree trimming according to customer density. Because every inch of power line that I see when I drive, including the lines up along Wades Gap Road over Cahas Mountain have all had nearby trees trimmed back. Asplundh trucks were a constant presence here from late summer to fall. I don’t think that it’s entirely fair to prioritize trimming in this manner; Floyd does have a much smaller population than Franklin and Roanoke Counties but Floyd with it’s much colder temperatures gets hit by more severe weather.

    One beef I do have with AEP, or rather, with Asplundh, is that a good many trees along rights of way and near power lines are Paradise Trees. Asplundh went to great effort (and AEP expense) to cut these trees back about 9-12′ from the lines. That’s all well and good; an oak or maple would take about 6 years to grow back to it’s original height. However, a flipping Paradise Tree (Ailanthus) will take all of 12-18 months to grow back to it’s original height! It would seem to me there is a case for cutting these “Stink Trees” down to the ground, drilling the stumps, and pouring herbicide down their gullets.

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