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For Immediate Release

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Pepco Announces Comprehensive Manhole Corrective Plan

For Immediate Release
April 6, 2000

Underground electricity crews will be fanning out over downtown Washington to perform 10,000 manhole inspections by year-end starting the end of April as part of a comprehensive effort to avoid reoccurrence of the recent series of incidents involving manholes. Pepco's efforts include expanded inspections, specialized training for contractors who dig in city streets and the installation of vented manhole covers, among other steps.

Pepco's manhole safety plans were filed today with the District of Columbia Public Service Commission, in response to an April 5 order by the Commission.

The goal of the expanded inspection program is to inspect manholes that house low voltage and 13,000 volt electrical cables with splices of the type that have caused many of Pepco's manhole problems in recent weeks.

Pepco announced on March 20 that it was expanding its ongoing inspection program to include the 660 manholes in Georgetown and 5,000 more in the District. Now, as a result of recent downtown manhole incidents, Pepco has proposed to the PSC a comprehensive four-part action plan to review the causes and implement strategies to help avoid reoccurrence.

"While we can not guarantee a problem-free future, as CEO of Pepco I can guarantee that we will do everything we can to continue to make our system as safe and reliable as possible," said Pepco President and Chief Executive Officer John M. Derrick, Jr.

The four actions include:

  1. Expanded inspections: Pepco is doubling its manhole inspection and repair program to more than 10,000 per year. Crews will use high tech equipment to detect potential "hot spots" in underground cables.
  2. Research: Pepco has also begun designing and testing new vented manhole covers to replace the existing ones in selected areas. Vented manhole covers should help reduce the possibility for covers to be dislodged when a problem occurs in the manhole.
  3. Contractor Educational Forums: In collaboration with the District Public Service Commission and the DC Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP), Pepco will participate in OEP-sponsored educational forums for contractors who do construction work in city streets and sidewalks to help minimize the possibility for dig ins, which are a leading cause of damage to underground electric lines. Traditionally, Pepco has coordinated with contractors to assure that all safety precautions are taken when work is performed around electric lines, and extra effort is made with problem contractors.
  4. Annual Reports: Pepco will file annual reports covering manhole incidents-with full details of their causes and impacts.

Point of Contact:
David L. Morehead

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