SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

September 12, 2012

Blame AEP not God – Loss


Powell man wants AEP to pay for spoiled food


A Powell man has picked a fight with American Electric Power, alleging the company’s failure to maintain its system has cost him $1,500 worth of spoiled food.

Lawyer John K. Keller is representing himself in the AEP complaint.

John K. Keller lost power for six days after the June 29 storm, and now he has filed a formal complaint with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

  • The tree that knocked out his power was the same one that lay across Rt. 315 near the intersection with Powell Road, closing the highway for days.

This is a highly unusual case. The PUCO has 34 pending complaints this year about electric companies’ quality of service. Of that total, only four involve AEP, and Keller’s is the only one related to the storm. Many of the complaints have a dashed-off quality that often leads to a dismissal.

One of the differences here is that Keller is a lawyer — a partner with Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease in Columbus — and he is representing himself, so he will have almost no legal costs.   “If I can’t pursue this, who the hell can?” he asked.

  • The tree that fell had been marked for removal for weeks before the damage, the complaint says. Then, once the tree fell, highway workers waited for six days to reopen the road because power lines needed to be removed.
  • AEP “closed a major state highway because, in my view, they were not paying attention to management of trees,” Keller said. He sees this as a violation of the company’s terms of service.

More than 650,000 AEP customers lost power in the storm.

The utility has asked regulators to dismiss the complaint, arguing in a filing that the storm was an act of God, and “nothing alleged in the complaint constitutes inadequate service.” As for the tree-marking, the company said there is no rule or law that requires such trees to be removed immediately. An AEP spokesman had no additional comment.

The PUCO has scheduled a prehearing conference for today.

A formal complaint is the agency’s equivalent of a civil lawsuit, overseen by an administrative law judge. Most complaints are settled or dismissed, but a few go on to trial-like hearings and a ruling. This is separate from the thousands of informal complaints that come into the PUCO’s call center.

Keller is asking for $1,500, the estimated value of spoiled food from two refrigerators and a large chest freezer.

  • He said he thinks that if more people filed these kinds of complaints, AEP would be pushed to provide better service.

“I’m not doing this for the money,” he said, adding that it’s “more of a public-service-type thing.”

(I am so impressed with attorney John Keller and this [in effect – a public service gesture], effort to right some obvious wrongs, that I intend to place this post among my heroes . . . . it’s a very good thing.  He is in a position to do something about it and HE IS DOING IT.  Bravo!

Since Kasich took office, the citizenry of Ohio has suffered so many hardships – – not the least of which was the dismantling of our Consumers system put in place for years and functioning beautifully, until Kasich started slashing it’s funding til they could no longer serve the public needs.  They had saved many thousands for the people of our state and truly held the line with utility increases.  All that was changing and everybody knew it.  It has been one increase after another  All they have to do is ask, and their requests are granted.  

Believe it,  I was also experiencing this terrible condition and wondering about others who were worse off than me.  Tho my body works, nothing else did.  Couldn’t cook, watch TV, use my computer, tend my blog or call out.  To be old and alone can be  kinda the pits.    Reading this account makes me realize that the time of this  experience didn’t have to be so lengthy.

Yes sir, John K Keller is indeed one of the “good guys.”   I’ll try to remember this name.      Jan)


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