Posted tagged ‘Pepco’

Pepco’s Beautiful Depression Era Frescoes

March 25, 2015

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to visit Pepco’s Headquarters at Edison Place (701 Ninth Street, NW), you’ll have noticed two large artworks that appear to be paintings. These are actually frescoes created by artist James Michael Newell and commissioned by Pepco in 1931 for their headquarters building at 10th and E Streets, NW. As the Pepco headquarters has moved, so have the frescoes. They now hang at the far end of the entrance hall and nearby in the ground floor elevator lobby on Ninth Street.

The first fresco that a visitor encounters shows linemen working along the Potomac River (below).


As one turns towards the elevators, the companion piece again shows linemen working with the Benning Power Plant in the background.


Both artworks are accompanied by the following informational plaque:


Limited Power Outage Scheduled for Tonight in Northern Park View

March 24, 2015

Pepco is doing some maintenance work in the northern part of the neighborhood and power will be off in the affected area tonight from 11:00 pm to 6:00 am.  The outage will impact customers on the 600 block of Rock Creek Church Rd., 600 block of Quebec Pl., 3600 block of Park. Pl., 3600 block of Warder St. NW, and the 700 block of Princeton Pl. NW. Residents living in this area should have already received a door hanger alerting them of the disruption (example below).

Pepco outage sign(Pepco notice from door hanger)

The scheduled outage tonight is so that Pepco can replace a module. As this is an overnight outage, residents on the relevant blocks should plan accordingly with regards to alarm clocks and devices that require charging.

Pepco Planning Harvard Substation Upgrade

October 20, 2014
Pepco Substation No. 13, at Harvard and Sherman Avenue, with 2914 Sherman in the background.

Pepco Substation No. 13, at Harvard and Sherman Avenue, with 2914 Sherman in the background.

Here’s some interesting news. Recently, Pepco purchased the property at 2914 Sherman Avenue, NW. This purchase is part of Pepco’s ongoing efforts to provide safe and reliable electric service to residents. As part of their efforts to do this, they identified the need to upgrade the Harvard Substation located at Sherman Avenue and Harvard Street, NW. This substation is an early substation in the Pepco system (it’s no. 13) and 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.

According to an email from Pepco,”they have determined that the Harvard Substation needs to be upgraded for several important reasons, including the age of the existing infrastructure and capacity requirements, and to ensure [that they] continue to provide safe and reliable electric service to … customers. The equipment and building itself is aged and needs to be upgraded.  In addition, electrical demand in the area has increased and improvements are needed in order to meet forecasted loads.”

2914 Sherman Avenue will be razed as part of the substation project.

2914 Sherman Avenue will be razed as part of the substation project.

Upgrades to the Harvard Substation must be complete by 2021. To facilitate these upgrades, Pepco purchased the abutting property at 2914 Sherman Avenue. As recently as January 2013, there were plans to renovate the building into 20 market-rate condos. After the developer gutted the building, work seemed to grind to a halt.

Pepco plans to demolish the existing multi-unit building and use it temporarily to complete the renovations and upgrades to the substation. While the project details have not been finalized, Pepco anticipates that the substation improvements will likely proceed in five phases, which they have outlined below:

  • Establish a temporary substation. Before Pepco begins replacing existing infrastructure at the substation, they will first establish a temporary substation on the property adjacent to the substation.  They will need to create a temporary substation so that they can continue to provide electric service in the area while the existing substation is out of service.  Work to construct the temporary substation will likely start in 2018.
  • Transfer electric load to temporary substation site. Once Pepco has established the temporary site, they will transfer the load from the Harvard substation to the temporary substation.
  • Rebuild Harvard Substation. Pepco anticipates the rebuilding work at the Harvard Substation to begin immediately following the electric load transfer to the temporary substation. Plans for the rebuild have not been completed; however, Pepco intends to work with the community to ensure the design is harmonious with neighboring architectural themes and the property use is appropriate for continued operation.
  • Transfer electric load back to Harvard Substation. After the upgrades are completed, the electric load will be transferred back from the temporary substation and the Harvard Substation will resume providing electric service in 2021.
  • Disassemble the temporary substation. Following the load transfers, the temporary substation will be disassembled.

Pepco has determined that upgrading substation no. 13 is essential to maintain and improve the overall reliability and electric service for residents in the communities surrounding the substation.

I’ll share more information about this project as it moves forward and more information is known.

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.

Pepco Providing 2,000 Free Trees to Maryland and DC Customers

April 2, 2013

treesHere’s an opportunity I want to make sure everyone is aware of … especially if you live on a street that has no street trees. If you have room in your yard and would like to plant a tree, or, know of a neighbor who would like a tree, you can now get a free tree from Pepco.

Last year, Pepco in partnering with the Arbor Day Foundation was able to offer 3,000 trees.

The full Pepco press release is below:

Washington, D.C. – In its third year as an Arbor Day Foundation partner, Pepco is providing 2,000 free trees to customers in Maryland and the District of Columbia through the Energy-Saving Trees program. Launched as a pilot initiative in 2011, the Energy-Saving Trees program conserves energy and reduces household electricity bills through strategic tree planting. Pepco customers can reserve their free trees today at

Within seconds of accessing the website, an online tool helps Pepco customers find the most strategic location for planting and estimates the annual savings that will result from the tree. The Arbor Day Foundation calculates that the 2,000 trees are estimated to produce more than $380,000 in energy savings within 20 years. Customers can reserve up two trees per household and the program will continue until all 2,000 trees are reserved. In exchange for the free trees, customers are expected to care for the trees and plant them in the location provided by the online tool. The two-to-four-foot trees will be delivered directly to the customer at an ideal time for planting.

“The Energy-Saving Trees program saves money and the environment,” said Thomas H. Graham, president, Pepco Region. “More than $380,000 in energy savings within 20 years is a substantial benefit to our customers and the region.”

The Energy-Saving Trees online tool was created by the Arbor Day Foundation and the Davey Institute, a division of the Davey Tree Expert Co., and uses peer-reviewed scientific research from the USDA Forest Service’s i-Tree Software to calculate estimated benefits.


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.


Much Ado About Bricks and Alleys

April 14, 2010

Temporary asphalt patch due to heavy up

Yesterday began with a flurry of concern over damage that occurred in one of the communities newly redone alleys where a Pepco crew had been working earlier in the week. Folks may recall that the alley bordered by Park Place, Princeton Place, Warder Street, and Quebec Place was rebuilt last October. Today, the alley sports a thick asphalt scar.

Upon closer inspection, the asphalt and the disturbed soil leading from it to a home on Princeton Place had all the tell-tale signs of heavy up work. This was later confirmed to be true.

One of the primary concerns was whether or not the alley would be correctly repaired after the heavy up is completed. DDOT responded to a query on the subject and confirmed that “PEPCO will be responsible for restoring this location with brick. [Their] inspectors will work with PEPCO to ensure that this happens.”


Power Restored to Northern Park View

December 21, 2009

Residents of norther Park View awoke this morning to find that they were without power. Callers to PEPCO learned that crews were out working on the problem and hoped to have power restored by 11 a.m. Ultimately, power was restored just before 12:30 p.m. Here, we see a crew working on the problem at the southeast corner of Georgia Avenue and Princeton Place.

Pepco Heavy Up Work Continues

August 31, 2009

Pepco heavy up work in Park ViewNew parking restriction signs have gone up on the block of 3664-3674 Park Place along with the north side of Quebec between Park Place to the alley. This is for the second phase of a heavy up that Pepco is installing on the corner of Park Place and Rock Creek Church Road.

According to the signs, they expect this work to be completed by September 4th.

This project has been in progress since July 24th, when contractors began installing the pipe that would eventually house the new power lines.
Pepco heavy up work in Park View

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