Archive for the ‘Pepco’ category

Where Will Pepco Be Upgrading Ward 1 Infrastructure?

May 22, 2014

Harvard Conversion ProjectDuring the April 8th community meeting with Pepco, ANC 1A invited Pepco to come to their May14th meeting to provide an update on local infrastructure improvements and give an indication of what projects are planned for the next couple of years. Here’s what was learned at that meeting.

In addition to the work Pepco is wrapping up in the 14th Street and Park Road area, there are additional phases planned. The next phase of the Harvard Conversion project will be increasing the capacity of cables from 4 kV to 13 kV .  During this phase, Pepco will be extending 2 new underground feeders to bring in additional capacity to the area so that they will be able to transfer load and reconfigure their system.  Pepco will begin by constructing approximately 4,000 feet of conduit, 11 manholes, and 2 switches.  Next, crews will install and splice approximately 8,000 feet of new cable.  Finally, a scheduled outage will be required to energize the new cables.  Construction is scheduled to begin July 2014 with completion targeted for March 2015 (See fact Sheet here and map above).

Following this phase of the project, Pepco will be able to convert additional feeders from 4 kV to 13 kV. The map below includes future 2015 and 2016 locations of the Harvard Conversion, in addition to already completed areas of the project. On the map, Pepco wanted to note that some of the 2015 areas defined by the green line have already had cables replaced during corrective actions; however, the 2015 work will be to increase capacity and convert the feeder from 4 kV to 13 kV.

Finally, the area bounded by the orange square in the map below is where Pepco is completing a load study. During the April community meeting, they shared that they would be completing manhole inspections and analyzing data from smart meters to identify areas that may need cable or transformer replacements. In April they conducted field analysis on 79 transformers and found no overloading conditions.

Harvard Conversion

Brief Overview of Columbia Heights/Pepco Outage Meeting

April 10, 2014

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.

Columbia Heights Pepco map 2014(Map provided by PEPCO at the meeting showing recent power upgrades (green) and upgrades in progress (blue))

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.

Park View Keeps Power During Sandy

October 30, 2012

With the worst of Sandy behind us, I was relieved this morning to wake up and discover that the neighborhood still has power. In fact, Ward 1 in general fared well in keeping its power … which I’m sure is largely due to having underground power lines.

Below is a screenshot from the Pepco Web site showing power outages as of 7:00 a.m. this morning. It gives a good sense of where the power outages are and to what scale. The green triangles indicate outages of less than 5 households unless otherwise noted. Numbers greater than 5 have been added when known.

You can easily see the difference underground power lines make. Power service transitions to  above ground service in Ward 4. In looking at the map, that could account for the increase in outages north of Rock Creek Church and Spring roads.

UPDATE: After walking the neighborhood this morning, I saw no significant damage or downed trees as far south as Kenyon Street. Also, Pepco seems to be making quick work of restoring power to the north.


Pepco’s Substation No. 13

August 3, 2012

PEPCO Substation 13, built between 1907 and 1944. View from the southeast.

The small industrial-looking building on the northwest corner of Harvard Street and Sherman Avenue probably doesn’t draw much notice from many that pass by it every day, but the more I learn about the building the more I’m drawn to it. For those not familiar with the building, it’s a Pepco electric substation and dates to 1907.

To better understand the importance of this small, unassuming substation, it is helpful to know that Washington was slow to adopt the electric light. Though the city saw its first demonstration of electric lights in 1872, city commissioners did not contract for the installation of even a few arc lamps until 1882. Replacement of gas lamps was further slowed when city officials ruled that all wires must be laid underground. It was not until the 1890s, when rapidly expanding electric street railways demanded a source of power, that the electric industry in Washington experienced its first real growth.

By 1901, Pepco, along with ten of the smaller independent car lines and two electric power companies, had been consolidated into the Washington Railway and Electric Company. In its first years under the Washington Railway and Electric Company, Pepco was a captive of the traction interests. It supplied electricity to railroads, and its service generally stopped where the streetcar ended. In 1906 the company began construction of the first unit of the Benning Station along the Anacosta River.

By 1912 Pepco President Clarence P. King boasted two power plants and eight substations. That year Washington Railway and Electric Company transferred to Pepco its two-thirds interest in the Great Falls Power Company. By the end of 1914 Pepco was running 24,818 meters and had 8,215 street lamps. It had surpassed $2 million in revenues, and its connected load–excluding railways–was 58,776 kilowatts, 6,522 kilowatts more than it had in 1913. (Much of the preceding from the more complete history of Pepco found here)

While strong opposition to the substation existed in the community, the site chosen by Pepco was largely unbuilt. This map detail from 1911 shows that that the substation continued to be removed from nearby residences for years after its construction

Against this background, the substation at 1001 Harvard Street takes on an importance otherwise hidden. It’s early date of construction puts it at the forefront of providing electricity to residential sections of the city. The Washington Times clearly stated in their July 28, 1907, announcement of the coming substation’s construction that it was due to the rapidly growing section that has followed the cutting through of Eleventh street.

About 50 residents of the area, headed by Henry C. Stewart, 617 Fourteenth street, immediately opposed construction of the election substation citing it as a nuisance and claiming it would negatively impact property values. Despite this, a permit was granted for construction on August 1, 1907. A legal back and forth ensued with Pepco at first being barred from moving ahead before finally being granted permission in September 1907 by Justice Wright in the District Supreme Court.

The substation was built in five stages. The original 1907 building was designed by architect Frederick B. Pyle. This was followed by additions designed by Arthur B. Heaton in 1920 and 1921. Further additions were added in 1929 and finally in 1944.


Power Outage in Park View

October 5, 2010

Many residents in Park View awoke to no power this morning. In checking with Pepco, they currently estimate that power will be restored by 11:00 a.m. (see below).

Pepco’s Web site indicates that the outage is affecting fewer than five households … but being among those customers I know that that estimate is incorrect. The outages northern edge is the south side of Rock Creek Church Road. I’m not aware of the southern or western extents of the outage and appreciate an update from anyone that knows.


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