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Response times for repairing electrical problems are poor, Tarentum residents contend

| Tuesday, July 16, 2013, 1:06 a.m.

Recent power outages in Tarentum have raised concerns by some residents about the borough's response.

On Monday, Jack Burkett of Lawton Street criticized the borough, which owns and operates Redcat Power Co., for not being more responsive when outages occur. There were two on Sunday night.

Burkett said the borough's power company should employ a lineman living locally who can respond quickly. He said he's had several surge protectors blow out as a result of power outages.

“What happens when I'm not home and that happens?” Burkett said. “Is my house going to burn down?”

William Mayhugh of West 11th Avenue also expressed concern, saying he has experienced power surges at his house that have blown out three surge protectors and had a breaker blow out at his home as a result of outages caused by storms.

Borough Manager Bill Rossey said Redcat responds more quickly than West Penn Power did when it leased the borough's power grid and was the borough's power company.

Redcat distributes electricity that is generated by West Penn Power.

For the past three years, the borough has contracted with Bruce and Marilees, an electrical company in Butler, to provide line repair and maintenance services.

“If something happens here, it is usually taken care of within an hour,” Rossey said.

“West Penn Power, we are at their mercy,” Rossey continued. “They feed us power from every angle, and if their power goes out, there is nothing we can do.”

He said that when the borough did have a lineman employed by Redcat, he didn't live in town. The situation was the same when West Penn was the borough's power distribution company.

Rossey said the last lineman employed by Redcat told borough officials that they didn't really need a lineman on staff because the frequency of problems is not that great.

He said that lineman is Tom O'Connor, who now works for Bruce and Marilees and is the person who normally comes in to take care of electrical problems in the borough.

“I'll have to disagree with you,” Burkett said of Rossey's comments.

Rossey said the Sunday outages likely were caused by increased loads on the power system as high temperatures and humidity prompted people to stay indoors and use air conditioning and other electrical appliances.

“I wouldn't be surprised if something happens again in the next day or two because of this heat and humidity,” Rossey said.

Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4675 or tyerace@tribweb.com.

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