The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

What a Morning (& Thanks, Pepco)

Well, this has been quite a morning. I haven’t been able to keep up with the news, because we got hit with another storm this morning. The latest in a series.

Of course, we lost power again.

Then I remembered the drain by the basement door tended to get backed up. Sure enough, water was seeping in. I raced upstairs, grabbed some towels, raced back down, threw them on the floor, then raced outside to check the drain. It wasn’t blocked with leaves or stopped up with dirt. The rain just came down so hard and fast that it couldn’t keep up.

I came back inside, soaked from the knees down, went upstairs to change, and called Pepco.

Ah. Pepco.

I got the recording, which said they were assessing the damage. There was no estimate on restoration, but Pepco tweets that restoration for some customers will take multiple days.

When I come downstairs, Parker reminds me that this is the fourth power outage we’ve had in maybe a month’s time.

Did I mention Parker was a real trooper, and entertained himself playing while Daddy ran around like a wet madman?

But back to Pepco. I’m beginning to wonder about them.

Rate hikes? Stimulus funds? So, why no power?

Plus, there’s this letter to Pepco From Montgomery County Executive Isaiah Legget.

Leggett Letter to Pepco

Here’s the text I find interesting.

On Sunday, July 25 at approximately 3:20 p.m. a line of severe thunderstorms passed through the Baltimore/Washington region. As a result of those storms, over 219,000 of PEPCO’;s 302,000 customers in Montgomery County lost power.

While I understand the size of the storm was considerable and the damage extensive, I am at a loss to explain to County residents and business owners why PEPCO took so long to mobilize sufficient contractors to assist in restoring service to its many customers, some of whom, as of today, still have no service.

I assumed that PEPCO, like the County, has pre-established mutual aid agreements with regional utilities and independent contractors whose resources can be mobilized quickly in situations such as what we are experiencing. I also expected a significant increase in resources to have been mobilized sooner instead of hearing that they were just arriving Tuesday, nearly two full days after the storm hit and the extensive damage was clear to you.

Further, there is little acceptable explanation why current conditions exist for PEPCO, and not for utilities servicing adjacent jurisdictions. The storms that we experienced on Sunday were region-wide and BG&E and Allegheny Power have had nowhere near the outages being experienced in the PEPCO service area (see enclosed map).

This causes me to draw a number of conclusions:

1. PEPCO’;s preventive maintenance and tree trimming / tree damage cleanup programs need review and revision;

2. PEPCO’;s contracting and operational procedures and practices for bringing additional resources to bear in emergency situations need reconsideration;

3. PEPCO was unable to communicate useful and accurate information in a timely way to customers; and

4. Practices regarding coordinating activities with the County under these kinds of emergencies need improvement.

Montgomery County will continue to cooperate in whatever way necessary to coordinate with PEPCO’;s efforts. Still, Montgomery County is not in the business of distributing electrical power. That is PEPCO’;s responsibility – and County residents and businesses deserve much better and more reliable service than we are receiving. Many of our residents have suffered great inconvenience and sometimes life-threatening problems due to the extended outages. Meanwhile, many of our businesses have suffered significant losses at a time when they can ill afford to. The unreliability of your service must be addressed.
Given the experience of the February winter storms and this most recent emergency, I am sure there are "best practices" available from which PEPCO can benefit. I look forward to reviewing your post-incident analysis and how you plan to make system improvements and changes to your operating practices to improve system reliability.
Plainly put, the status quo is unacceptable.

Here’s the coverage map in question.

The red area is us. Pepco customers. The green is, well, everybody else.

So what gives, Pepco?

Why did I have to spend half my day getting to work, mainly because traffic lights weren’t working and thus bus schedules went haywire. (How long will I spend getting home this evening?)

After waiting 20 minutes for bus that Metro consistently said was 30 minutes away, and after getting the wrong information from a Metro customer service agent who told me a bus was arriving at 9:16 (the scheduled time, which means he looked at a schedule and parroted it back, as if he’d no idea that a storm had knocked us back to the Bronze Age, instead of just telling me he didn’t know) Parker and I walked four blocks to another bus stop, hopped on the metro, and walked four block to his day camp.

(Parker’s day camp was open and hand power, giving him a far more fun option than going to work with me or sitting at home.)

Three hours after I usually get to work. I arrived at my desk.

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