Skip to comments.Outages put Pepco on multiple hot seats
Posted on 07/03/2012 7:20:35 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
D.C. Council members planned to meet face-to-face with officials from Pepco as soon as Tuesday to address the unacceptable pace of the utilitys recovery efforts after Friday nights fierce storm swept through the region and left hundreds of thousands without power in stifling heat.
Their stern response to a third day of widespread outages builds on years of skepticism aimed at the utility that serves nearly 800,000 customers in the District and Maryland.
Several city lawmakers could empathize with their constituents plight, because they, too, lacked power in their homes. They wondered aloud whether Pepco gave short shrift to the District; if its crews followed the prescribed priority list of downed wires, intersections and nursing homes; and if anyone had seen crews out and about in the immediate aftermath of the knockout punch.
This was not an admirable approach on their part, council member Mary M. Cheh, Ward 3 Democrat, said during an afternoon briefing at the John A. Wilson Building. And Im furious about it, actually.
Such complaints are not new, nor are they limited to the District. A July 2011 report found Pepco ranked dead-last in customer satisfaction among U.S. companies.
The findings by the American Customer Satisfaction Index group echoed a refrain among lawmakers in Maryland and the District. Last year, both jurisdictions revisited reliability standards at the utility and potential fines for unreasonable outages.
The fallout from Fridays sudden storm is doing little to quell their concerns.
Joining the chorus was Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who described the storms aftermath as the largest nonhurricane-related power outage in Virginia history.
Yet it was Pepco that has been dogged by vitriol from government leaders and irate residents.
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley told reporters this weekend that nobody will have their boot further up Pepcos backside than I will.
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtontimes.com ...
Maryland “Freak State” PING!
Atlas is shrugging - and the liberal trash who bought on this sorry state of affairs will double down on class warfare while pursuing more regulations & strangulations...
So, not a peep about Obama and the EPA shutting down all those coal plants that generate electricity, eh? We have the most anti-energy, anti-progress government in history, and still people don’t get it. Heaven help us!
Welcome to 0bama's future of bankrupt coal fired power plants.
You asked for it, it's sustainable and green. What's not to like?
Yeah because its totally in the interest of the utility to drag its feet in repairing and providing service.
Was thinking the same thing. Now they have to explain to the Central Committee for State Productivity why their output of Rearden metal is down.
Yeah, that will work, huh? I know when my boss is standing over me I feel sooo much more motivated (not). Like they are not trying their best. What an insult.
Get used to it.
0bama wants all of us to live without electricity.
Two power outages here last week and we haven’t had any storms. One they blamed on “excessive load” and the second on “unspecified technical failure”
Racist electricity: always trying to get away from the black wires and to the white wires...
(Almost killed me)
The grid is old, the work is spread out, these people are acting like lunatics
On this one I think the grumblers (me firsters)need to cut the power companies a break. Imagine the staggering number of people affected by this storm. In little WV alone there were over 700,000 people without power. The state only has about one and a half million people. Ohio was hit hard with millions in the dark, KY, VA, IND, part of IL, N.C. S.C. MD, N.J. and the D.C. area, all the same. That was a massive land hurricane. The wind just took out rows of trees. At one of my churches, it lifted a row of pines and the whole bank on which they grew to leave a gaping trench. It took roofs off and a lot of small buildings. We were without power for almost five days, with no phone service and threats of water being turned off.
You couldn’t go out and eat because all the restaurants were without power too. Same with gas stations. If a station had power, they had lines of cars for hours; people trying to get gas for generators. New generators not to be found for any price.
The whole experience was educational. We learned that we were not as prepared as we thought we were, and what we need to do for the next disaster. With communications down and people with no TV or computer, they came out and formed a neighborhood. We actually talked with one another. In the lines waiting for a seat in any restaurant who happened to have power, people were laughing and having a great time with each other. Perfect strangers exchanging pleasantries. Communitos. My efforts to get hubby to purchase a Generator will now come to fruition. Sleeping with the doors open was not so bad. In all, it has been something that may alert people to what can happen if the SHTF. That’s a good thing. I sure did miss FR though.
Good UNION WORKERS WILL TAKE THEIR SWEET TIME ON OVERTIME to get the power back on. Perhaps the Mayor will call BHO to make it a National disaster and proclaim a week off with pay for all DC Gov employees.
“We learned we were not prepared as we thought we were...”
Yes, you are exactly right. Our generator worked fine but I did find that most of the grocery stores did not have generators. You should smell the stink from the rotting produce/meat/etc... behind the shopping centers. I did learn a few things: our generator works approximately 12 hours per tank, you can make do with a window unit provided the doorways are blocked off with thick plastic and small/light meals did fine. I will say this though... I did become concerned for many folks without a generator. One afternoon, the ambulance took residents from neighborhood houses at least four times (that was just on our street). Not for infants or the sick/elderly... but for middle age people. Power outages, IMHO, are a bit easier during the Winter.
Must be time for the fed to take over PEPCO!
Wait for it...
Thank you for that!! Tough times actually CAN bring out the best in people.
(And I just put “generator” at the top of my priority purchases.)
Anyone recommend a particular model?
Efficient, quiet, last forever.
All these electric companies are running worker lean - depending on other companies to send crews when the crap hits. The crews from other parts of the country from other companies are just hitting the areas now - give them time.
The same screaming happened last October in New England- there were companies working those lines from as far as California...takes a while to drive equipment over hill and dale.
If I was in that position and took incoming crap like that, I’d resign and tell the complainers, “OK, if you’re so smart, YOU do it.”
Please. Don’t work with electricity. Black and red wires are hot. White is neutral and GREEN is ground.
I live in MD in the affected area. I went without power for 55 hours.
The main problem with PEPCO is that it doesn’t have an effective catastrophic response plan. I work in telecommunications [specifically, disaster recovery] and have a lot of expertise in this area. Power is not the same as telecom - but is similar enough.
First, PEPCO is either incompetant, lying to the public, or both.
It claimed that it spent the first 24 hours conducting a comprehensive field assessment of the damage. Yet, after 48 hours, it tried to claim that there was not a 4 1/2 foot diameter tree - together with two telephone poles and downed power lines laying across the entire southbound lanes of Connecticut Avenue in Kensington, MD [my town just outside DC].
Just so happens that this route is probably the most major traffic commuter artery in the area. Not that they had to restore the power there sooner - but NOT clearing the debris [the downed power lines were dead] for more than 48 hours is unforgiveable.
It took someone notifying the local news to do a spot at 11 pm on Sunday night - and lo and behold, the PEPCO crews came out at 5 am Monday, removed the debris, AND restored the power.
Quite a feat for PEPCO, considering it denied that this situation in the first place ...
Second, PEPCO has no common sense.
It requested [and got] a 4-truck electric utility crew from Maine to come down here to help out. The crew drove 13 hours on Monday and was sent into my community immediately.
They came onto my cul-de-sac, turned around, and then stopped. They got out of their trucks and were inspecting maps. I went out and asked if there was a problem, since my street’s power was already restored.
They told me that PEPCO told them to go into my community to repair downed power equipment - but had not given the crew any names, address, or telephone numbers where the outages had occurred - OR A PEPCO TECHNICIAN TO RIDE WITH THEM TO SHOW THEM WHERE TO GO. And this is a 12-street, 300 home community. They had no idea where they were.
I was able to direct them to streets where I knew outages had occurred. And, after that, they were able to help out.
I agree that there is less loss due to winter outages. At least the frozen food isn’t lost. We lost two freezers full. The third one is in the cooler basement and was stuffed full, and we didn’t open the lid on it, so we think it will be fine as re-frozen food. It sure hurts to lose that much meat, etc.
I normally get dry ice, like in the last outage here two years ago - but, this time, it happened on a Friday night, and the outage was effectively almost total.
The local shops that carry dry ice were almost totally without power and [thus] did not open on Saturday and those shops [farther away] that did open ran out quickly before I could reach them on Saturday morning.
Additionally, the dry ice manufacturing facilities were all out of power and could not make dry ice over the weekend. Stores ran out of regular ice early, but my freezer and refrigerator would hold for about 36 hours.
I went to Giant and Safeway on Saturday night figuring that they would be getting 5 am deliveries of ice on Sunday, but was told that it would not be there until late on Sunday. So, I went home.
On my way home, I noticed that my closest 7-11 [which had been out of power] was back up and running - and someone was carrying two 16-pounders of ice out of the store. So, I stopped. The delivery truck had just been there and the ice cooler was full. Got 80 lbs for about $20 for my 4 coolers - worked out great. Have power back now, lost only about $35 of food total.
Had tree damage that is being covered by homeowner's policy - but it also has a "food spoilage" rider. So, I am getting reimbursed for the lost food!
Careful what you wish for.
Here in the Midwest, we get more power outages from ice than wind. A few years ago, there was a massive storm that had people without power for months.
A lot of people got sick from trying to use a snowbank as a freezer. The food would get warm in the sun, and refreeze. Not to mention that no power or heat in sub zero conditions gets rather urgent if you have young children.
BTW, a lot of the local news crews and commentators are laughing at you guys. When we get outages, no one cares. When the power goes out on the East Coast for a few days, it becomes a massive front page event! But as my wife said, it may be because we have more storms, and have patterns of what to do. No one panics, and we all sit in the street drinking beer waiting for the power to come on!
The guy in the white shirt in front is marking underground utilities.
This after months of TV ads touting how Pepco has been improving service. Back to the drawing board Pepco! Less talk, more do!
I wouldn't get upset until recovery of electrical service takes more than 10 days. Why? BECAUSE that is typically how long it takes the Gulf Coast to recover from a significant hurricane.
When you take a hard look at the weather system that hit last week it was essentially a dry land hurricane. When you looked at the duration of the storm it was essentially a dry land hurricane. when you look at the area affected it was essentially a dry land hurricane.
So, how is an electrical company supposed to immediately repair damages of that level without any prior experience, reserve (and taxed) non-revenue producing resources, and no written agreements for mutual support from surrounding companies?
In the Gulf Coast you will see convoys of utility and tree removal trucks moving towards a hurricane's projected landfall 24 hours BEFORE landfall. In the Gulf Coast you will see established truck parks for those trucks 100 miles outside the projected landfall 12-18 hours BEFORE landfall.
I could go on with the differences between those who are (unfortunately) experienced with major utility interruptions and those who ain't.
Bottom line - people were caught totally unprepared and are now paying for it.
This week I am replacing my old generator, it still works thanks to annual inspections and repairs, because it is a decade old and I don't want it to crap out two days after a storm hit. Wonder if any one in the Mid-Atlantic states did anything similar to this last year?
Now that a storm of Friday's magnitude blows through, it's somehow Pepco's fault that all those trees fell down onto the power lines.
Oil lamps w/oil supply and Coleman lantern w/plenty of cylinders provided light. Loaned out my generator to a couple of neighbors for 2hr stretches each in both the mornings and evenings to keep refrigeration and anything else they wanted it for. I ALWAYS have gasoline on hand. Now that our power is back, my generator is with a friend who has local damage and is waaaay down the list.
Though never a fan of MonPower, formerly Alegheny, IMO they are doing a pretty good job with this one.
Sounds like they switched rivers, but were too chicken (or too sensible) to spell out the new one in full.
How did the black AC wires ever get away from being ground (or a pseudo-equivalent) given that everyone else uses black for ground?
(Almost killed me)
Touch White, you'll be alright.
Touch Black, it'll set you back.
I, for one, welcome our new Electrical Overlords /.
Yep. I guess you live in "MoCo" [Montgomery County]. like me.
The pics are shot at the corner of Decatur [side street] and the southbound lanes of Connecticut Avenue [looking north on Connecticut].
Looking north, the crossbar of one telephone is in the foreground, a complete telephone pole is next north across the roadway [about 50 feet away], and then the tree [about another 25 feet north of the complete telephone pole].
Another 50 feet north of the incident is Lawrence [another side street]. So, this all occurred in a space of about 200 feet between Lawrence and Decatur.
ALSO, further north about 1/4 mile, just beyond Denfeld [another sidestreet and traffic light intersection] there were 3 trees down between Denfeld and Adams [another sidestreet and traffic light intersection].
On Monday morning during rush hour, when PEPCO finally decided that these trees and telephone poles WERE a significant impediment to rush hour traffic - it had the police block off southbound Connecticut Avenue all the way from Viers Mill Road past Decatur in Kensington.
A total of about 1 1/2 miles blocked off right when people needed to go south towards DC and the Beltway to get to work !!!
Aw man, I never said I wished for winter outage. Gee whiz, we get those about every two years. We are not on the east coast either. WV people are tough and survivors. We don’t sit around whining. Hubby and I actually enjoyed this little adventure. We’ve been through much worse things (he’s a former Marine and I’m a Depression baby). I thought it was neat that the neighbors all came out and we sat around and chatted. Met some neighbors I hadn’t met before. Anyway, as I actually said, it’s easier to have outages in the winter. Shut off the water, drain the pipes, close the doors and go find a motel room ASAP. The freezer will keep. And yes, I did notice all the grumbling being played out on the TV from D.C. area when our power came back. Sounded like they were the only people affected.
I learned this lesson decades ago, long before there were green wires.
Or think "to be burned black." Some old wiring jobs are so faded that it's almost impossible to tell what the white and black wires are.
And technically, even if wiring was all done properly to code, you can STILL get knocked on your can by touching a separated white (and a ground). It might be carrying the return from a circuit that's live with something plugged in that always carries current.
Packing an unpowered freezer with ice, if no dry ice can be had, will help keep food from spoiling even if things like ice cream become unusable (I hear it’s good in coffee though as a creamer). And a tray of ice on the upper shelf makes the refrigerator into an ice box. Be sure the tray can hold the melt water and does not have a pin hole in it, or leave the ice in an intact bag to hold the water.
The ability to run the refrigerator (furnace in winter), have a few lights on and fire up the computer make life not so tough for a few days.
Lots of electronics is run by "connecting" the ground. Turns out that house electricians like to do the same thing.
SHTF isn’t anywhere close to as likely as more prosaic storm events, yet a lot of people don’t plan for storm events.
It’s still likely that you will have internet after a storm that kills the power. Power for the modem (broadband or otherwise) and computer is usually the only problem. Phone companies have their own power backups. A little car-type inverter can feed a modem and computer unless your computer is a humongous kilowatt gaming unit.
Gack, a switch in the neutral is an egregious breach of both all code and common sense. But the DIY crowd cares not, so long as it works and blows no fuse.
Years after one particular DIY job (by a smart-@$$ relative the identity of whom I will not divulge) I discovered that touching the medicine cabinet and the faucet together with bathroom light off would shock you. Connecting the two with a jumper lead turned the bathroom light on. Yup, way before GFCIs.
I guess in the USA white is cold, whereas in Europe blue is cold. In the USA it would be OK to use blue for hot, or any color other than white, grey, or green. Globetrotting electricians should be careful.
You don’t have to go anywhere, US factories are full of (IEC) euro coded machinery.
For extra fun, with age the (Euro neutral) blue turns (US hot) black...
If you’re talking about the innards of dedicated equipment, all bets are off. I mean house and building wiring.
And the Euros picked a lousy blue dye for their neutrals that blackens? That’s worse than pale red M&Ms.
In our case, we bundle. So the storm knocked out cable: no TV, Computer, Phone. But maybe my hubby knows what an inverter is, I don’t. Ha. I just heard thunder and it’s suddenly dark out. Here we go again. Thanks for the advice.
Better description of my photos than I could have done myself.