Public Utility will not provide incident report
Loveland, Oh. - Duke Energy’s initial response to the widespread and damaging electrical surge that went through Loveland’s business and residential core on May 12 was, “Our information indicates that a vehicle accident resulted in damage to Duke Energy’s distribution system and caused a power outage in your area.” Because of that initial assessment, Duke said they would not pay claims. They suggested the person who had the wreck should pay for the tens of thousands of dollars in damages to Loveland businesses and homeowners.
A spokesperson said that after the auto accident, Duke shut lines down to isolate the problem so repairs could be made safely by their employees, and to redistribute the power to customers. “To de-energize the lines so our crews could safely work on them.” He also said that the incident started at 1 PM. The next day he said the auto accident was at 11 AM and “is likely what caused of the outages in Loveland yesterday.” He said the explosions heard throughout the downtown area were fuses blowing when their crews opened and closed the lines to make it safe to make needed repairs.
More than 1,000 businesses and homes in Loveland’s business core went without electric for hours. High voltage surged into the homes and businesses. One homeowner saw sparks surrounding his television when a 34,500 volt line failed. (Read background: Widespread damage and economic loss during Duke power outage and surge)
Duke said the damage was caused by, “…a member of the pubic” and recommended that those who suffered damages, “…may want to obtain a copy of the police report and follow up with the parties who were involved in the vehicle accident. Duke provided no information however for customers to determine where the accident happened, or even the police jurisdiction that customers could call.
There was no offer from Duke to intervene on behalf of customers.
Loveland Magazine investigated and determined the location and time of the auto accident and informed Duke that the time of the surge of electric did not coincide with the car wreck that occurred many miles away and an hour earlier. Duke revised their explanation when Loveland Magazine suggested that a downed, high voltage line near the Loveland Post office fell onto lower distribution lines and was the likely cause of the widespread damage. This was also the speculation of Loveland Police Chief Tim Sabransky.
Duke revised their statement on May 21
… after closer examination of the event and physical evidence from the incident site we have concluded the incident occurred due to a random unforeseeable failure of an electrical component on the Duke Energy system which caused an overhead electrical wire from a 34.5kV circuit to fall onto a 7200v circuit.”
We find no negligence on the part of Duke Energy that caused or contributed to the resulting damage to our electoral distribution facilities and your subsequent loss.
The company hired by Duke to investigate their liability concluded they will deny claims.
Duke keeping customers in the dark, and will not provide information they need
Duke will not provide the field or “Supervisor Report” on the May 12 incident. Spokesperson, Sally Thelen said, “That is not documentation that is shared.”
Without this report customers cannot dispute the facts of the incident.
Duke has also not responded to questions concerning the three outages in the downtown area since last Halloween. Loveland Magazine requested information regarding the reliability of Duke’s service in Loveland. They have provided no information on patterns and liability issues, saying that information is not normally given to the public. Thelen said, “In the event a customer is concerned with reliability matters, they can contact customer service at 800-544-6900 to inquire and typically we’d have a representative contact them directly to discuss history there.”
What now? What is appeal process?
The Duke press office recommends customers call their Ohio/Kentucky call center to make claims at 1-800 544- 6900. Customers can expect a ten minute navigation while Duke plays infomercials, etc., before reaching someone who will take their complaint or record their claim for damages. A customer must be persistent in this quest. "File a Claim" is not one of the multitude of prompts when reaching the customer service hot-line.
Loveland Magazine has obtained a direct number where customers can file claims against Duke. Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc. This is the company, hired by Duke, to determine Duke’s responsibility regarding customer claims. That number is, 1-855-398-2370.
If a customer disputes Sedgwick’s assertion that Duke does not have to pay for damages, the appeal process gets complicated and ultimately, expensive. First a customer must speak to a Duke Supervisor. If still not satisfied, they can file an “Informal Complaint” with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). Contact the PUCO Call Center at (800) 686-PUCO (7826) or register a complaint online.
If the PUCO is unable to resolve your dispute informally, or you are unsatisfied with the resolution, you may file a formal complaint with the PUCO. If you choose to file a formal complaint, the PUCO will open an "administrative law case" which involves proceedings similar to those held in a court of law. To request a formal complaint form, call the PUCO at (800) 686-7826. Corporations must be represented by an attorney during the PUCO formal complaint process. Residential customers have the option to represent themselves in a formal complaint proceeding or hire an attorney.
Download: Electric Customers’ Bill of Rights
Residential customers may also contact the Ohio Consumers' Counsel for assistance with complaints and utility issues at 1-877-742-5622 (toll free) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, or at: www.pickocc.org.