City Desk

Pepco’s Disconnect, Deeper Than Electrical

Maryland is angry.

Less than 24 hours after she lost power, Anne Coventry received a phone call from Pepco. The automated voice told Coventry that crews had restored electricity to her neighborhood. Yet her house remained dark and overly hot. “It's bad enough to worry about being without power in the heat with an infant at home,” says Coventry, a Bethesda, Md., resident. “But the really alarming thing is that Pepco would declare that our outages have been corrected when they haven't.”

Many have shared similar shvitzing stories on the 20817 zip code’s email list this week—which has runneth over with Pepco-bashing but shown few signs of light. While these residents’ frustrations with electrical company aren’t unique, their misinformation woes highlight a disconnect between Pepco and its customers.

Bethesda resident Diana Huffman says she spoke with a Pepco supervisor who refused to believe her electricity was out—because Huffman had lodged the only complaint in her immediate area. To prove her Kenwood Park neighborhood remained powerless yesterday, Huffman walked door to door to get more people to call.

By that time, most people on her street had already left town to avoid the heat. Those at home called Pepco, but no crews have came near her residence on Millwood Road, Huffman says. The supervisor refused to give Huffman her name.

“For 30 minutes the supervisor said, ‘If you can’t have people call, then there’s not going to be a report,’” Huffman says. “It’s pretty surreal when somebody doesn’t believe you when you say your power is off.”

But calling Pepco won’t expedite your service, Pepco spokesperson Marcus Beal says: They'll get to you when they get to you. Beal says he can't speak to the Bethesdans' complaints, because he would “need specific account information” as well as details from the IT department to explain how a robocall could be sent in error. “Some of the answers have to come after the event,” Beal says. “Our priority is restoring the power as quickly and safely as possible.”

Although Beal says 75 percent of Pepco customers have power now, thousands are still in the dark. One of them, Bethesda resident Susie Zimmermann, says she's confused why Pepco isn't equipped for events of this magnitude when they happen regularly. "They’re always amazed," Zimmermann says. "Three times a year it seems to be the worst event ever."

Zimmermann, too, found that Pepco's website said there was power at her house when there was not. Unlike Coventry and Huffman, though, she spoke with a Pepco representative who filed her outage report without contesting the information.

Still, Zimmermann, like many others, has only seen one Pepco vehicle in the area. Until there are more trucks on the road, Huffman says, she is skeptical that her home will have electricity by Pepco's estimate of 11 p.m. on Friday.


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  • No Power Pepco

    Like many people, I am angry at Pepco's callous treatment of my friend and family. A few years ago CBS cancelled a TV show and the people responded by sending in peanuts - more than 40,000 pounds worth.

    Individually, we cannot disrupt Pepco's operations, but together we can wreak havoc.

    Here is what I propose - each of us send a by sending a used AA battery to Pepco headquarters: 701 Ninth St., NW, Washington, D.C. 20068.

    After that, share this on facebook at "No Power Pepco"

  • gina a

    I'd like to know how much truth there is to the story touched on earlier that Pepco has been cutting linemen's jobs every year while reaping hundreds of millions in profit. I guess it's cheaper if Pepco can divest themselves of full time linemen (who would routinely maintain the lines) and their benefits and gamble on a "once in a lifetime" catastrophe and hire temp contractors to repair the lines with a couple days overtime. Unfortunately, it seems that these once in a lifetime storms and power outages are happening every few months. Meanwhile, I don't really have a dog in this fight because in 20 years, I have never lost power at my house. I think that is just due to the fact that here on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, we have buried power lines, but perhaps more importantly, are on the Capitol building grid, which I suspect is very well-maintained.

  • Jay

    That is a clown idea bro. It wasn't Pepco's idea to send a fifteen minute hurricane at your neighborhood.

    Grow up.