Concerned that the service reliability of the Commonwealth’s three FirstEnergy companies may have fallen below established standards, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.) Friday voted to formally investigate the companies’ reliability performance.

FirstEnergy companies in the Commonwealth include Metropolitan Edison (Met-Ed), Pennsylvania Electric Company (Penelec) and Pennsylvania Power Company (Penn Power).

The PUC said a review of reliability data, including the number and duration of outages, shows that the companies may not be meeting the standards established by the commission.

“We are not concluding that performance has deteriorated in violation of the [electric restructuring] Act or that such deterioration is due to factors within the control of the FirstEnergy companies,” the PUC said in its order. “However, there is enough information before us to warrant further investigation.”

The formal investigation will be assigned to a PUC administrative law judge for hearings and to collect evidence in order to determine more precisely the level of service reliability, the root causes for any deficiencies and what corrective actions, if any, should be taken. Friday's order directs the judge to issue a ruling by Sept. 30, 2004, so that the Commission can issue a final order before Dec. 16, 2004.