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State to press PacifiCorp for answers today

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PacifiCorp appears before state regulators today to respond to complaints over the utility's handling of snow-storm induced power outages that affected tens of thousands of homes along the Wasatch Front.

The hearing, which is open to the public, will start at 9 a.m. in the Public Service Commission offices at 160 E. 300 South in Salt Lake City.

Several PacifiCorp executives are expected to attend the meeting. Amanda Nelson, PacifiCorp's vice president of customer services, and Bob Moir, senior vice president of distribution, will be the main presenters for the company.

Tonight, Utah Power officials will also face questions from the Salt Lake City Council.

City Councilman Dave Buhler, whose power was out for three days following the day after-Christmas storm, sent a letter to Utah Power demanding answers.

"We have some areas where the power seems to go out regularly," Buhler said last week. "They had some major problems with customer service response. I don't even know if they knew who was out. . . . I've also heard from constituents who have told me they've called and begged (Utah Power) to come and trim their trees, and they can hardly come and get them to do it."

The commission has fielded more than 100 complaints over the past couple of weeks concerning delays in restoring electricity. At the height of the first outage, which occurred the day after Christmas, roughly 70,000 people were without electricity, some for as long as five days. A second winter storm on New Year's Day affected another 14,000 homes and businesses.

As power was restored to some homes it was offset by outages to others. Contributing: Brady Snyder