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For Immediate Release

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Pepco Files Report on Manhole Situation

For Immediate Release
July 21, 2000

In a report filed today with the District of Columbia Public Service Commission, Pepco announced it will begin replacing more than a thousand solid manhole covers with slotted ones. Additionally, Pepco outlined an expanded plan to assess its network underground electrical distribution system. The report aggressively addresses concerns raised by a series of manhole fires in the District this year.

Bill Gausman, general manager, Power Distribution, said Pepco would install vented or slotted manhole covers in pedestrian traffic areas to vent smoke or gas in the event of cable failure or other problems, to begin within six months depending on manufacturer availability. This activity, combined with an accelerated preventative inspection schedule, should minimize the number and impact of manhole incidents.

"This plan should reinforce the public's faith in the safety of our electric system design," said Gausman. "While no one can guarantee that mechanical equipment and electrical cables will never develop any difficulties, these proposed actions should greatly minimize the impact from any future underground system problems."

While the report provides data that demonstrates that overall reliability has been very good as compared with other utilities, Pepco recently retained an internationally recognized engineering firm to help objectively evaluate the underground design of the electric delivery system. The first phase of this assessment is underway in Georgetown, which has not seen the electric system modernization that occurred in many other parts of the city where the Metrorail system was built and large new buildings were constructed.

This infrastructure assessment, to be completed in September, will thoroughly analyze inspection data, engineering and design practices, reliability indices and other utilities' practices. A sophisticated computerized model of the network distribution system will be used to simulate the dynamic operating conditions of the electricity grid.

Any significant infrastructure changes, the report said, "will require excavation in public thoroughfares that may require work to be performed within our customers' property to allow the installation of new service cables." Gausman said that Pepco wants to work closely with the Georgetown business community, elected officials and Advisory Neighborhood Commissions to create a workable construction program on the main thoroughfares that will have minimal impact on local businesses, residents, tourists, shoppers and commuters.

Point of Contact:
Robert A. Dobkin

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