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The Pennsylvania Code website reflects the Pennsylvania Code changes effective through 54 Pa.B. 2336 (April 27, 2024).

52 Pa. Code § 69.1702. Notification guidelines.

§ 69.1702. Notification guidelines.

 (a)  Acceptable methods of public notification. In the event of a service interruption, the following acceptable methods of public notification should be considered and utilized as appropriate:

   (1)  Mass media. Facsimile/electronic mail notification to local radio and television stations, cable systems, newspapers and other print and news media as soon as possible after the event occurs. These notifications must provide relevant information about the event, such as the affected locations, its potential impact including the possible duration of the outage, and a description of actions affected ratepayers/occupants should take to ensure their safety, with updates as often as needed. Updates should be provided on a predictable, regular schedule for the duration of the event. The Commission’s Office of Communications and Lead Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer should also receive these notifications.

   (2)  Web site. Use of the utility’s own Internet web site, emergency phone line and integrated voice response system to provide relevant information about the event, such as the affected locations, its potential impact and estimated duration, and a description of actions affected ratepayers/occupants should take to ensure their safety, with updates as often as needed. A section of the utility’s web site shall be dedicated to presenting outage information where regular updates of the number of customers without service by geographic area and estimated restoration times are available. Depending on natural gas distribution company (NGDC) system limitations, this could be as simple as a PDF or spreadsheet file of information that is updated at regular intervals.

   (3)  Automated dialer system. Automated dialer system (outbound dialing) notification to affected ratepayers’/occupants’ landline or wireless phones. Updates should be provided at regular intervals or if the estimated restoration time changes by more than 2 hours.

   (4)  Miscellaneous. Other types of direct or actual notice, such as doorknob flyers distributed to affected ratepayers/occupants with actions affected ratepayers/occupants should take to ensure their safety, when feasible.

   (5)  Electronic mail and other emerging technology. Electronic mail and text message notification to affected customers who have opted to receive notice through use of these methods. The use of emerging technology such as social media is strongly encouraged.

   (6)  Emergency alert system. Coordination with State and local emergency management agencies as needed to use the emergency alert system for qualifying situations.

 (b)  NIMS standards. Utilities should strive to follow the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and its public information system to organize all information throughout the utility into one unified message.

   (1)  Crisis communication plans. NGDC crisis communications plans should be in writing and every attempt should be made to be consistent with Nationally-approved NIMS standards. NGDCs required to have written emergency plans under United States Department of Transportation regulations should also be familiar with NIMS standards so that NGDCs will be able to coordinate and respond under this paragraph and paragraphs (2) and (3).

   (2)  Coordination. If more than one NGDC is affected in the same geographic region, strong consideration should be given to implementing the NIMS based Joint Information System/Joint Information Center, including coordinating messages on safety and other consumer information tips during outages. This would allow for coordination and integration of information across jurisdictions, especially on universal messages such as actions residents should take to ensure safety.

   (3)  Public notice templates. NGDCs should have public notice templates prepared in advance to be available when needed to avoid wasting critical time developing materials when confronted with an unscheduled service interruption or an emergency situation. The notices should cover many possible scenarios from safety and shelter information, estimated restoration times and times when updated information will be provided.

 (c)  Contact information. To ensure that the public is informed, if possible, utilities should consider having a knowledgeable contact person stationed in the area of the outage, if possible, during the emergency to communicate to the public and media on behalf of the company. Regular media updates should be scheduled at predictable times.

   (1)  Spokesperson. A single point of contact should be established as the sole media spokesperson for the utility for that time period. During extended outages, a secondary-media spokesperson could be utilized as the sole contact for a specific period of time.

   (2)  Talking points and informational sheets. Talking points or informational sheets should be provided to customer service representatives and others who may come in contact with the public during the course of the outage to strive toward consistency of message. This information should also be shared with the Commission’s Office of Communications, its Emergency Preparedness Coordinator and county emergency management agencies. For employees that may have contact with the public but will not be able to receive up-to-date outage information in the course of their duties, the utility should instruct those employees to direct the public to appropriate information sources.


   The provisions of this §  69.1702 adopted February 24, 2012, effective February 25, 2012, 42 Pa.B. 1034; amended April 18, 2014, effective April 19, 2014, 44 Pa.B. 2405. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (360594) to (360596).

Cross References

   This section cited in 52 Pa. Code §  69.1701 (relating to scope).

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