Utility crews are working to restore power to thousands of Pennsylvania customers following high winds that roared through the commonwealth, knocking down trees and power lines.
PPL Electric reported more than 20,000 customers without power and said crews were responding to nearly 900 damaged sites. The company says hundreds of workers from other states will help with what it called "a multi-day restoration effort."
Duquesne Light said nearly 800 personnel were working around the clock, and most customers would have power by late Wednesday night. As of early Tuesday morning, it said it was still working to restore power to 21,000 people.
With 80 additional contract lineworkers available today, Duquesne Light has strengthened its storm response to more than 300 DLC and contract line crews working, as of 7 a.m. These crews are dedicated to restoring power to the remaining 21,000 customers without service.
— Duquesne Light (@DuquesneLight) February 26, 2019
By mid-afternoon Monday, First Energy reported more than 15,000 customers without power in Westmoreland County and more than 9,500 in Washington County. First Energy has a map of current outages available online.
Peco reported almost 23,000 customers without power, including more than 9,300 in Bucks County and thousands more in other suburban Philadelphia counties.
Greg Reed, Director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Energy, said overhead energy infrastructure is always at risk for downed trees and poles. But as extreme weather becomes more frequent, he said Southwestern Pennsylvania should look for alternatives.
“One obvious area is to put more [infrastructure] underground,” Reed said. “While that is not a foolproof way of eliminating all outages, certainly underground networks are much higher in terms of their reliability under these circumstances.”
Reed said officials should also consider microgrids, which are smaller energy grids that can operate independently of the large regional grid if there’s a problem. Microgrids are used at New York University in New York City and in Fort Collins, Colo. These places create their own energy using methods such as solar power, steam and gas.
Associated Press contributed to this report.