Housing Complex

Props to Pepco (!)

Pepco has taken a lot of heat for its performance in recent years, particularly following this summer's derecho—but so far, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, it looks like Pepco customers are holding up pretty well. Let's do a quick comparison of a few of the power companies in the region after the derecho and now.

Peak outages after the derecho:
Pepco (D.C. and Maryland): 483,639
Baltimore Gas and Electric: 429,841
Dominion (NoVa): ~500,000
Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative: ~37,000

Outages this morning, as of 11 a.m.:
Pepco: 20,843
Baltimore Gas and Electric: 139,690
Dominion: 98,682
Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative: 14,959

Everyone fared better across the board this time around. But while Baltimore Gas and Electric clearly got hit hardest by Sandy, due to the geography of the storm, Pepco had the biggest improvement from storm to storm.

Clay Anderson, a Pepco spokesman, credits the predictability of Sandy for the more limited impact on residents.

"The derecho gave us just hours of warning," he says. "Hurricane Sandy started in the Caribbean six, seven days ago, so the East Coast had time to prepare."

Anderson says Pepco's 1,500 employees have all taken over secondary storm responsibilities to respond to Sandy. Additionally, Pepco brought in crews from outside the area to help with the restoration effort, which should allow for a relatively speedy restoration of power to those who have lost it.

After the derecho, the average Pepco outage time was 26 hours. Anderson couldn't speculate on how long it was likely to be this time around, but he says there'll be an estimate this afternoon. Pepco is holding a press conference at 3 p.m. on the aftermath of the storm.

Anderson says there were about 41,000 outages among Pepco customers at the height of the storm last night. Now, he says, that figure is down to about 18,500 and dropping.

This is the first, and possibly the last, time I'll say this, but: Props to Pepco.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Mrs. D

    Pepco seems to be the rare company that (finally) realized it had a serious problem, and worked to improve it. Our power used to go out ALL THE TIME, like at least once a week, sometimes for hours. It's been over a year since I can recall the power going out at all, even through the Derecho and other storms. While it irks me that they made up a bunch of reasons why it was SO HARD for them to fix the problems (largest tree canopy in the cou, they seem to have at least finally fixed them.

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  • Robert Rovinski

    Pepco has always gotten the lights on faster, the problem in the past is that 1: The recorded numbers were false and were much higher than reported and 2: the numbers weren't reported correctly when power was restored.

  • Mike Sullivan

    Pepco has engaged in a really major upgrade of its facilities in my area, both before and after the derecho. New poles, new high-voltage lines that are insulated, major tree cutting. The derecho was a fast-moving storm that didn't do much damage in my area, but we nevertheless lost power for days because of the damage to distribution facilities. This time the danger was well known in advance and Pepco did a good job.

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