Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Berliner Goes After Pepco

Check out this email that District 1 County Council Member Roger Berliner sent out to his constituents. If you are a Pepco executive, well... maybe you should take some aspirin and look at it tomorrow.

Dear District 1 Residents and Friends,

Many of you have contacted me during this power outage crisis. I completely understand your frustration - my wife and I are also without power and we lose power all too regularly.

Today, my colleagues and I were briefed by PEPCO on their response to the storm. They continue to say that this is a 'multi-day event' and that they will have the "vast majority" of residents back on by Thursday. This brief storm was far more damaging than the blizzards - 200,000 customers in our county were without power after Sunday's storm.

During the briefing, I made it clear to PEPCO's President that their system simply isn't reliable enough. Power outages occur all too frequently for too long. I informed PEPCO that I would be asking the Maryland Public Service Commission, which has total and complete regulatory authority over PEPCO, to open an investigation into PEPCO's reliability, or lack thereof.

You should know that problems in the system were evident prior to the storm. I wrote to the President of Pepco on July 12th about the repeated and lengthy power outages that were occurring in fair weather and for no apparent reason. Many constituents had written to me about those outages. This current situation only adds a greater sense of urgency to get to the bottom of this. Pepco is only in the service provider business and does not generate power itself. We should have the very best system that we can and today we do not.

While it may be understandable why there cannot be a human response when thousands of people are calling, it is not acceptable for there to be a recorded message with inaccurate information. There should be a real person answering your questions as to why your power went out, when a crew will be dispatched, and how long it will take. Losing power is a serious matter, and getting a recorded message that lacks timely, accurate information is simply not acceptable. PEPCO has told us that citizens can now call 877-737-2662 to receive real time information on when power will be restored.

Here is the latest information made available to the County Council:

Storm Event
At 3:20 pm Sunday, a line of severe thunderstorms rolled through MontgomeryCounty, causing widespread damage, road closures, and downed trees. More than 200,000 PEPCO customers and nearly one third of all traffic signals in the county were reported without power.

Road Closures

A total of 254 roads have been reported as closed due to downed trees and other tree related obstructions; the number of current road closures now stands between 50 and 60.
DOT has cleared all known road closures except those involving Pepco lines. All road closures are pending until Pepco clears the power lines from the obstruction.
Pepco has been notified of all road closure locations involving power lines
County crews and contractors continue to clear debris countywide
Equipment operators will remain overnight to open roads as Pepco clears power lines.


Continues to operate on a regular schedule with some delays associated with traffic conditions

TransportationManagementCenter (TMC)

Monitoring traffic conditions and signal outages. The number of dark signals fluctuates as power goes on and off and trips fuses. 19 temporary stop signs are in use at selected intersections to assist with traffic control.
Between 80 and 90 signals are out at this time.

If you are concerned about food safety please consult the guidance provided by the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/keeping_food_Safe_during_an_emergency/index.asp.

For more information on cleaning up after this storm, please visit http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/swstmpl.asp?url=/content/dep/solidwaste/stormcleanup.asp for a thorough explanation on what to do with any large debris that may have been generated in your yard.

Again, know that I share your frustration and I will continue to push PEPCO and the Maryland Public Service Commission to take all reasonable steps to increase the reliability of the system and improve the customer response by PEPCO to outages.


Roger Berliner
District 1