Brief Overview of Columbia Heights/Pepco Outage Meeting
In response to three major power outages in the area surrounding the 1300 blocks of Park Road and Monroe Street, and the 3300 blocks of Holmead Place and 13th Street as well as 11th Street since last Thanksgiving, a public meeting was held on Tuesday, April 8th, that included Councilmember Graham, the Office of People’s Counsel, ANC1A Commissioner Patrick Flynn and PEPCO officials. ANC1A Commissioners Kent Boese and Kevin Holmes were also in attendance, as was ANC1B Chair James Turner.
There was a reasonably good turnout, and after an overview by PEPCO on what caused the power outages and what PEPCO is doing to resolve the situation and prevent future outages, the floor opened up to general questions. PEPCO also provided a three page fact sheet that provided an overview of the Columbia Heights situation, a projected timeline of the work currently underway, and listed three planned outages that are necessary to complete the system upgrades. The first two outages will be on April 14th and April 21st. The date of the third outage has not been scheduled yet, but all work is expected to be completed by early May 2014.
Some residents in attendance stated that they’ve had power outages since 2003, and the PEPCO representatives responded that they understood their frustration. They also expressed a need to know specific addresses as that would assist them in understanding the particular transformer/feed serving the properties and give them a better understanding of where problems may exist.
Councilmember Graham asked why 14th Street north of Park Road (including Monroe Street) was experiencing problems as he understood that the infrastructure had been replaced during the major development that resulted in the Civic Plaza and DC USA. PEPCO responded that those improvements were located south of Park Road and that the area north of Park Road now being upgraded is on a different section of the system.
While PEPCO did a good job explaining what caused the outages and how they are resolving the problem, larger questions still remain. When asked if they could provide an idea of the general age of the electrical infrastructure under Columbia Heights, they stated that the did not know. When asked if they collected data that would help them track power demand in the area and predict growth in demand for electricity, PEPCO stated that they have been doing this as well as possible and have reached out to DCRA to have better data on building activity. PEPCO did state that the new smart meters will greatly improve their ability to track power usage and plan upgrades to support projected demand. PEPCO was a bit vague on whether or not there are any other known areas within the immediate community that they are reviewing for potential upgrades. This question requires follow up and PEPCO has been invited back to the May ANC1A meeting to provide additional information and updates on their progress.
Commissioner Flynn in particular emphasized the need for PEPCO to develop better and more effective methods of communicating with both the ANC and community — especially during outages – a position that was supported by many at the meeting. Along these lines one resident recommended that part of PEPCO’s outreach during scheduled power outages could include a list of known businesses not impacted by an outage where residents could go to charge phones or find shelter should they have an immediate need that requires power.
Of importance to anyone who experience a loss due to the PEPCO outages that they are of the opinion is the responsibility of PEPCO, it was shared during the meeting that they may file a claim by calling 202-872-2452. Claims assistants are available to speak with customers between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. There are different forms for residents and business owners.
Upon a claim being filed, it will be assigned to a member of our Claims Department, who will investigate the claim to determine whether or not there is any liability on the part of Pepco. When our investigation has been completed, the customer will be contacted and advised as to our position on your claim.
All claims are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, relative to the information that is submitted and the related investigation and findings.Explore posts in the same categories: City services, Pepco comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.