A Sandy Springs resident living in the city’s Dunwoody panhandle said he and his neighbors are planning to start a petition and present it to both Georgia Power and the Public Service Commission, which regulates the state’s utility companies, after frequent non-weather-related power outages have plagued the area.
Bob Skiba, who has lived on Churchill Drive for 10 years, said he and his neighbors are fed up with Georgia Power’s lack of response to the frequent outages over the past decade and beyond.
“Over several years, there have been chronic power outages affecting about 1,000 people in the area of Roberts Drive to Jett Ferry Road off Spalding Drive,” Skiba said. “We were out for nine and a half hours (due to) tree falling near Spalding Drive at Ball Mill Road (Sept. 18) and had at least four power surges (Sept. 21). Even with surge protectors (following a power surge), you have to reset everything.
“It would be one thing if it was one time a year, but it’s six to 12 times a year. It’s not (always) related to weather issues.”
Skiba’s neighbors, whose names were not released at his request, have had similar complaints in messages posted to the Nextdoor neighborhood website/mobile app.
“Isn’t it time to petition Georgia Power or whichever agency has the responsibility for providing power to bury the power lines on Spalding Drive?” one resident said. “In the 35 years we’ve lived on Churchill Drive there are five or six outages every year, some lasting like (the Sept. 18 one) for nine-plus hours. Most of the time it’s the result of a tree falling or a car accident on Spalding.
“I realize that underground is expensive, but so is the tree trimming, accident repair, etc. not to speak of the inconvenience and safety impact on our neighbors. In desperation, many have resorted to buying their own backup systems, but come on, most of these outages could be fixed with underground utilities. And while I’m at it, how about having all these companies dig once, not multiple times?”
Another resident said, “I encourage you to file a complaint with the Georgia Public Service Commission every time your power goes out. Georgia Power has no motivation to update aging infrastructure, but public complaints put a lot of pressure on them to take action. I filed two for recent outages in August and early September and got some quick responses from Georgia Power after that. Ultimately, they have a lot of work to do, and we need to keep pushing for it.”
Skiba said he would also like Georgia Power to bury its power lines along Spalding (the lines in his neighborhood are buried). He said he or one of his neighbors has contacted the utility company every time there was a power outage or surge. Skiba acknowledged Georgia Power has worked to address the issue recently.
“Within the last three to four months, they have stepped up tree trimming and limb trimming on Spalding Drive between Roberts and Jett Ferry,” he said. “I want to give them credit where credit’s due, but nine or 10 years later, we still have this issue of power spikes.”
Craig Bell, a Georgia Power spokesman, said the company is aware of the issue and is addressing Skiba’s concerns.
“Georgia Power works every day to increase the reliability of our system,” Bell said. “In addition to unexpected weather events, tree vegetation is also a threat to our power lines and is a common cause of outages in areas like Sandy Springs, where the tree canopy is dense.
“To help mitigate this risk, we have sped up tree trimming in this area to help reduce the power outages our customers have experienced. We are also in the process of adding additional equipment to our power systems that will help to reduce the duration of long-term power outages caused by unexpected events.”
He also said Georgia Power is “committed to providing world-class service and reliability for customers every day.”
“We are continuously investing in our power grid to make it smarter and more reliable, to minimize both the duration and frequency of outages. We ask for our customers’ continued patience as we complete this critical work.”
Skiba said he also contacted Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul’s office to see if the city could do something to help solve the problem, but his office said it couldn’t help because it’s a Georgia Power issue.
Of the problem, city spokeswoman Sharon Kraun said, “While I can understand Mr. Skiba’s frustrations, Georgia Power controls its lines, including maintenance and repairs. … The city doesn’t have the authority over their operational decisions.”