For Immediate Release
For Immediate ReleaseJune 1, 2004
Today marks the official beginning of hurricane season, and the likelihood that these tropical and other severe storms could cause power outages. Since last year's storm season, Pepco has developed new measures to provide for safe and timely power restoration and urges customers to also plan early for weather and other types of emergencies that could result in power outages.
"Hurricane Isabel and other past storms taught us valuable lessons," said Mike Maxwell, Pepco's vice president, emergency preparedness. " As a result, we are continuously improving by developing our ability to better communicate with our customers and providing more information to help our customers plan their lives around these inconveniences, while expanding collaboration with community emergency services and improving our mobilization of staff and resources to quicken restoration efforts."
Pepco recognizes that it is impossible to prevent outages caused by severe storms, but the company is working to minimize outages by fortifying its system and improving overall reliability. To reduce damage from trees--the overwhelming cause of power outages during storms--the company is working with communities and governmental agencies to more aggressively trim trees and, where necessary, replace trees with lower-growing varieties. Also, the company has made computer software and hardware upgrades to increase the volume of data the system can process when conducting outage analysis.
"Despite these efforts," Maxwell said, "there's no way of knowing immediately how the storm damage will affect service restoration until we can get our damage assessment teams out. That's why we encourage our customers to plan early and prepare for the possibility of being without service.
"We also urge them to keep safety in mind at all times and stay away from downed wires, and to assume any wire is a live wire.," he added.
Maxwell said new procedures are in place to get more timely information from the field in order to give customers more detailed estimated restoration times. Pepco will also make available on its Web site, www.pepco.com, maps that indicate the location of outages by Zip Code and the general location of crews working to restore power.
Pepco offers these safety tips to prepare for power outages:
PREPARATIONIn advance of a storm, prepare for the possibility of extended power outages. Customers should have emergency preparedness kits, including flashlights, a battery-powered radio with fresh batteries, spare batteries, canned food and a manual can opener, a supply of fresh water for several days, a first-aid kit, essential medications for those who use prescriptions, diapers and wipes if necessary, pillows and blankets or sleeping bags. Customers with special medical needs are urged to arrange for assistance if they are unable to be without power for more than a few hours.
SAFETYPepco strongly encourages customers to make safety a priority. Stay away from downed power lines. All downed lines should be treated as if they are energized, and individuals should not approach them or touch them. If you see a downed wire call Pepco at 202-872-3432. Keep away from flooded areas and stay indoors. If you experience a power outage, check for electrical damage inside your home, such as frayed wires, sparks or the smell of burning insulation. If you find damage, don't turn your power on until an electrician inspects your system and makes necessary repairs. Remember, electricity and water is a dangerous combination. Even wading in a shallow puddle or flooded basement that is exposed to an energized line could lead to harmful electrical contact.
GENERATORS Customers who use privately owned / portable electrical generators in the event of a power outage should make sure those generators are not connected to Pepco's system. This will prevent electricity from inadvertently feeding back into the system and posing a risk to repair crews who are working on the system and to any customers who may be exposed to downed lines. Customers should refrain from connecting generators to their home circuit breakers or fuse boxes. Private generators should be run outdoors and appliances should be connected directly to the generator by an appropriately sized extension cord or through a transfer switch installed in accordance with National Electric Code requirements.
APPLIANCES Customers whose service has been disrupted should turn off or unplug major appliances, such as electric water heaters and air conditioners and leave one light switch on. This will help prevent an overload once power is restored.
Customers with appliances at imminent risk of being affected by flooding should shut off the gas and electric supply to the equipment. If it appears that electric meters that serve the home or business also will be submerged, call Pepco. Before re-lighting appliances, heating or other equipment that has been under water, it is important to have them checked by an appliance dealer or utility service provider.
REPORTING If your power is out, call Pepco at 1-877-Pepco-62 (1-877-737-2662) to report the outage. Our automated system eliminates busy signals, feeds the information to dispatchers and allows for a more efficient and orderly process. For the system to work correctly, it's important that we have your correct telephone number and address, which helps to identify your location. In minor outages, the automated system will provide an estimated restoration time. However, in the wake of major storms it takes longer to provide estimated restoration time because Pepco damage assessment teams must first get into the field and assess the damage, often under difficult and dangerous conditions. Safety teams will first respond to downed wire locations. Once recovery gets under way, customers can call back to get an updated estimated restoration time. If you have access to a computer, maps identifying area outages and general locations of repair crews will be available on Pepco's Web site, www.pepco.com. If power has been restored elsewhere in your neighborhood but not to your home, call and report the outage again, as there may be a secondary problem in the neighborhood.
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About Pepco: For more than 100 years, Pepco has served the people of the Washington metropolitan area with clean, reliable and low-cost electricity. Pepco, a wholly owned subsidiary of Pepco Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: POM), provides electricity transmission and distribution services to about 725,000 customers in the District of Columbia and major portions of Prince George`s and Montgomery County in Maryland.
Point of Contact:Robert Dobkin