READING, PA, JUNE 4, 2009 –- In the midst of a severe thunderstorm late Wednesday night, vandals damaged a Pennsylvania Electric Company (Penelec) radio tower and other specialized electrical equipment in Clearfield County. Were it not for the prompt response of company employees working in that area as part of Penelec's workforce continuity plan – implemented May 21 after members of IBEW Local 459 went on strike – this act of vandalism could have resulted in lengthy power outages to customers.
A failure alarm for the radio tower was received at the Penelec regional dispatch
office in Erie that alerted the company there was a disturbance. The specialized equipment located at the site includes radio-controlled switches that help Penelec dispatchers maintain electric service throughout the region. Once the problem was identified, crews were dispatched and the necessary repairs were made.
As a result of the suspected sabotage, Penelec is enhancing its security around
company facilities. The Pennsylvania State Police and local authorities are investigating. In addition, the company has notified the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and has contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Homeland Security.
“Based on the damage, the incident does not appear to be a random act,” said
Penelec Regional President James R. Napier. “We have a zero tolerance approach to
vandalism of any kind. The damage done to our equipment puts our customers and
employees at risk. We are asking our customers to report any suspicious behavior they see around our equipment and are working with the appropriate authorities to identify those responsible so that they can be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Penelec, an electric utility operating company of Akron, Ohio-based FirstEnergy
Corp. (NYSE: FE), serves approximately 590,000 customers in 31 Pennsylvania counties.
News Media Contact Scott Surgeoner (610) 921-6785 2800 Pottsville Pike Reading, PA 19612
2800 Pottsville Pike
Reading, PA 19612