Thousands of families throughout West Virginia were left in the cold during recent weather storms that plummetted the area. Now, the Public Service Commission (PSC ) of West Virginia wants to know why. The PSC annoubnced Monday that they have ordered a General Investigation into the conditions surrounding the Appalachian Power Company (ApCo) and Allegheny Power (AP) power outages that occurred as a result of the Dec. 18 winter storm. During that storm, several thousands of ApCo and AP customers suffered power outages with a significant number of customers going without power for more than a week, according to the PSC. The PSC outlines their rationale for conducting these investigations in the order initiated by the PSC, case no. 10-00 19-E-GI, filed in Charleston on January 11. The oder states, The Commission finds that it is appropriate to initiate a general investigation to obtain information about the conditions that contributed to the extent or duration of the power outages that occurred, the action of the Utilities in dealing with those outages when they occurred, and any steps to be taken to prevent large scale outages in the future. Named in the order are Appalachian Power Company and Wheeling Power Company, both operating as American Electric Power, and Monongahela Power Company and The Potomac Edison Company, both doing business as Allegheny Power . According to the order, the utility companies will be required to answer the following 10 questions: 1. All information as required by Electric Rule 4.12 for the power lines that were downed or damaged during the December 18 and 19,2009 storm, including a summary of the outage incidents, including cause, the number of customers affected in each county, a summary of Utility response, and when restoration occurred for each outage incident. 2. The actions of the Utilities in dealing with those outages, the dates when they occurred, and the steps to be taken to prevent large scale outages in the future. 3. A description of the Utility contingency plans, including outage response protocols in place before, the December 18 and 19,2009 winter storm. 4. The dates and descriptions of the most recent right-of-way and vegetation maintenance performed by the Utilities in the areas of the subject power lines. 5. Information whether the lines repaired following the December 1 8 and 19, 2009 winter storm have been completely repaired or will require further repairs or upgrades. 6. A ten-year comprehensive description of dollar amounts embedded in cost of service for right of way maintenance; dollar amount budgeted by the Utility for right of way maintenance; and Utility expenditures for right of way maintenance and reliability, including expenditures for vegetation management and equipment repair or replacement. 7. The results of any internal After Action Reviews which took place following the December 18 and 19,2009 winter storm, including specifically a summary of any action items that have been identified that would improve Utility planning and/or operations in response to emergencies or large weather events. 8. A ten-year history of reliability indices for each Utility service area or major subdivision, including the System Average Interruption Frequency Index (SAIFI) and Customer Average Interruption Duration Index (CAIDI); Such data should contain values which both include and exclude major events as defined by the Utility. 9. The Utility system-wide right of way maintenance policies and practices. 10. The Utility system-wide policies and practices for identification and replacement of aged lines and/or worn equipment. This evidentiary hearing is scheduled for march 20, at 9:30 a.m., at the Commissions headquarters, 201 Brooks Street, Charleston. The Commission will take public comment at the beginning of this hearing, according to PSC spokesperson Susan Small. In addition to the evidentiary hearing, there will be two opportunities for the public comment. The first public comment hearing will be held March 11, , at 6 p.m. at the Harrison County Recreation Complex,/4-H Center, 43 Recreation Drive, Clarksburg. The second public comment hearing will be held closer to Boone County, on March 16, at the Sawas/Kostas Theater at the Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, Logan Campus, 2900 Dempsey Branch Road, Mount Gay. To read the complete Order of Investigation, go to www.psc.state.wv.us or the Coal Valley News web site at www.coalvalleynews.com.