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Irene Power Outages Might have been Avoided

At the height of Hurricane Irene, more than 700 people were without power throughout eastern Pennsylvania, and more than a million lost power at some point due to the storm.

Electric companies met in Harrisburg this week with the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to discuss how to avoid mass outages and better communicate with customers.

Mike Innocenzo of PENCO said that each of the utilities have multiple ways of getting information to customers. "We use technology. At any given time one of those pieces of technology have some issues with it," said Innocenzo. "It's important for us to make sure that we have redundant ways for customers to communicate to us and redundant ways for us to get information to our customers as well."

According to the PUC, about six percent of the 1.3 million customers who lost power during the storm didn't get it back for three or more days.

Nick Austin with MetEd said the utility struggled with wanting to quickly distribute information about power outages and report accurate information. "Because of the social networking, is that the importance seems to be more the speed of information," said Autsin. "People are more adapt to say, 'All right, well, I know I'm getting it so quick that it may not be 100% accurate.' I think we as a utility need to adapt to that a bit."

Companies pledged to redouble their efforts to keep in touch with customers using social media.