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For Immediate Release

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Pepco Begins Installing New Slotted Manhole Covers

For Immediate Release
October 16, 2000

Pepco today began installing the first of 3,000 new slotted manhole covers as part of a multifaceted program to improve its underground electrical system and enhance public safety in the expanded central business district of the District of Columbia.

"Testing of the slotted covers showed that their use should minimize the frequency and impact of manhole cover displacements," said Robert C. Grantley, Group Vice President, Customer Service and Power Distribution. "Should cable faults occur that result in smoke, the slotted covers would permit the smoke to disperse and facilitate early warning and detection."

A Pepco crew installed the first slotted covers in Georgetown. The company expects to have 1,000 installed before the end of the year, placing them in heavily traveled pedestrian areas and crosswalks in similar areas in downtown D.C., including the Capitol Hill area. Pepco is developing a plan for installing the additional covers.

While the overall reliability of Pepco's underground system compares favorably to that of other major cities, the company announced last spring - following a spate of manhole cover incidents - that it was undertaking a comprehensive program to improve its system. In addition to the new covers, the program includes:

  • Manhole Inspections. An aggressive inspection of manholes to identify and fix problems and evaluate environmental conditions that could cause problems. A goal of 10,000 manhole inspections a year was set.
  • System Evaluation and Enhancements. The hiring of a nationally recognized engineering consultant group to help with a system-wide assessment of the underground electrical system to determine which infrastructure enhancements should be made, with a special focus in Georgetown. Georgetown was selected because as an historic area, it has not experienced commercial growth similar to other parts of the city and the subsequent upgrades to the electric system.
  • Contractor Training. Working with the District's Emergency Management Agency to provide specialized training for contractors who dig in city streets to help them avoid coming in contact with electrical equipment.

Grantley said there is no single answer to resolving problems in an underground electrical system. "We cannot guarantee that underground electrical problems will be totally eliminated with installation of the slotted covers," he said. "However, we can assure you that we are responding aggressively at several levels to ensure our system is as safe and reliable as possible."

Pepco will install the new manhole covers during off peak hours to minimize traffic disruptions. The cast iron covers initially are rust in color, a manufacturer's design feature and they will eventually weather to a gray appearance similar to the existing covers.

Point of Contact:
Robert A. Dobkin

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