Archive for Saturday, July 29, 2006

Resident irritated by repeat outages

July 29, 2006


Steve Craven's patience with Westar Energy about the persistent power outages in his neighborhood is gone.

Since Craven moved into the 3400 block of Richard Court a year ago, he has lost track of the number of outages he has experienced.

"Every time I call them, they say, 'OK, we'll make a note of it,'" Craven said. "They come in and immediately fix it, but they aren't fixing the root of the problem and I don't understand it."

During the past 12 months there have been nine outages in his area, Westar confirmed.

"His neighborhood has experienced a higher-than-usual number of extended outages," Westar spokeswoman Gina Penzig said.

Of those outages two were caused by tree branches on the lines, five were because of animals such as squirrels, two were equipment problems and one was because of the March 12 microburst storm, Penzig said. The outages have ranged from 40 minutes to four hours, she said.

The tree and squirrel problems come as no surprise to Craven. Though squirrel guards have been placed on transformers, Craven said he has been told more than once by Westar crews that they were behind on tree trimming around power lines.

"Every time I've spoken with any of the ground guys, they just roll their eyes and shake their heads and say, 'Man, we know. We're just so far behind.'"

But Westar spokeswoman Karla Olsen said the utility was not behind on its tree trimming in Lawrence or anywhere else. Some trees grow faster than others and Westar crewmen get to them as fast as they can, she said.

"Tree trimming is an expensive thing and we increase our budget for that every year so we can try to catch it faster and faster," Olsen said. "Because a particular area may have been down a couple of circuits on our list doesn't mean we're behind."

Craven's neighborhood is now on a priority list and someone will be checking it for tree-trimming needs in the next day or two, Olsen and Penzig said.

"It was already on our radar and in cases like this we'll move it up on our priority list," Olsen said.

It's about time, Craven said.

"If they are going to address it, that's cool," he said.


jayhawks71 11 years, 7 months ago

Support the elimination of government-sanction monopolies (aka exclusive franchise).

Christine Pennewell Davis 11 years, 7 months ago

4 hrs the longest heck I was out for 8 hrs in march and my sis was out for three days please give me 4 hrs that would be nice.

kingdork44 11 years, 7 months ago

Please, Try Going 7 Days without power. And your complaining about 4 hours. Count your lucky stars you're in Kansas and not Florida, with all the Hurricanes. I'm Sure the Power Company that you deal with are doing all that they can. I know your mood. I was there after 3 minutes through 7 Days. Trust me...... I feel your pain. Ease Up! It's not that bad. I Lived! Of course this statement is all in hindsite!!!!!!!

momof2 11 years, 7 months ago

Above ground power lines which are mostly in your older neighborhoods are known for squirrels in transformers and freezing in the winter?!? A lot has to do with how many trees are in the area as well. Also the older AC units which are not only costly for the consumer but a huge load on the energy supply. This is not a new thing in Lawrence. I have lived all over town and had this happen. Good Luck

Sigmund 11 years, 8 months ago

It has NOTHING to do with older neighborhoods. 6th and Wakarusa isn't really "old West Lawrence" afterall.

No offense Momof2, I'm sure you mean well, but that isn't the problem here. I have friends that live in a house built in the 40's, have overhead powerlines, and their power hasn't been out in over a year! But if you are looking for new or additional employment you sound perfect for a Westar "customer service" representative!

Ragingbear 11 years, 8 months ago

You think that's fun? Try living in a place with CONSTANT power surges and brownouts. I blow out bulbs within 2 weeks, and that is with them on surge protectors.

Sigmund 11 years, 8 months ago

In the last 12 months my electric power has been off nearly a dozen times. Virtually everytime it rains or there is a breath I lose power. To "add insult to injury" the City Kommission is talking about maximizing the utility franchise fees, obstensibly to maintain utility easements including tree trimming and removal. (Which is it by the way, does the City maintain the easements or is it Westar?)

On one notable call to Westar, I had a "customer service representative" explain to me the outages were "weather related" and couldn't be helped. When pressed if she had "weather" where she lived she replied "yes", when further pressed about when her power was last out she happily told me "its been a couple of years." I guess the weather here in Lawrence is much worse than in Wichita where she lives, global warming don't you know.

When asked if she would send a copy of my utility outages so that I could forward it along with a letter of complaint to the KCC Consumer's Advocates to be addressed the next time Westar asked for a rate hike, I was told "I am not sure I can do that." It was only after demanding to talk to her supervisor that she decided she could mail it to me (no they won't email a copy). When asked if there was a Director at Westar who was responsible for Service Assurance, I was told there is none (jeez, BIG suprise).

While I couldn't be more happy that Dave Wittig is in jail for 10 years for stealing millions of dollars from Westar, customers, and shareholders, at least he was able to keep my electricity on!

momof2 11 years, 8 months ago

That is par for the course when you live in a older neighood with above ground power lines happens all the time.

hammysammy 11 years, 8 months ago

Our power lines are underground, and our power goes out ALL the time. It went out two days ago. And it sucks because every time I have to reset all the clocks, the computer, the answering machine, etc. It went out on me when I was writing a final paper last semester. It really does make me crazy.

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