Frustrated by years of poor service, hundreds of Frontier Commonwealth customers turned out last week for four public input hearings held by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) in the Northern Tier. Whether you shared your experience with poor customer service, extended landline and internet service outages, or slow repair times – or you simply sat in the audience in a show of support and solidarity – THANK YOU for participating.
During the hearings, we heard from residents who were without phone service for weeks with no means to reach anyone in case of an emergency. We heard from emergency responders who have to physically man their fire stations when there is an outage, and from the Bradford County 911 coordinator about how many times they’ve had to report service outages to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. We heard from parents whose kids can’t do their schoolwork online at home, so the parents drive to the school parking lot to catch a WiFi connection. And we heard from small business owners who were unable to process orders or even credit card payments, costing them valuable income.
The hearings were scheduled in response to a formal complaint filed by the Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate (OCA) and the Office of Small Business Advocate (OSBA). That complaint came about because hundreds of people across the Northern Tier submitted written complaints to my office and the office of Rep. Clint Owlett sharing their experiences with Frontier. In other words, this is all happening because of YOU. You’ve made your voices heard and now the agency charged with regulating utilities across the state is taking a closer look at the issues that have been plaguing us for years.
Based on testimony we heard, we are looking at some potential legislation that could help hold utilities like Frontier accountable for their service failures, so stay tuned for an update on that.
As for the PUC hearings, the next step will be for the involved parties (Frontier, OCA and OSBA) to submit their own testimony. OCA and OSBA will serve testimony on July 19. Frontier will get to respond on Sept. 7. Evidentiary hearings will be then held in Harrisburg in October. Ultimately, the administrative law judges will render a “recommended decision” for the PUC, after which commission members will vote to decide the case. It is a lengthy process, but one I hope will lead to better phone and internet service for all of us here in the Northern Tier.