Report on June 8th Pepco Meeting with Rollingwood Residents

Pepco official George Scola (standing) addresses Rollingwood residents. Seated are RCA Members Sue Ducat (left) and Patricia Moscof (right), and Pepco's Jack Chu (seated, middle).

Prepared by meeting organizers —   Sue Ducat and Patricia Moskof. 

On June 8th, three Pepco officials met with over 60 Rollingwood residents at the French International School to answer residents’ questions and to provide up to date information about the root causes of the outages in our area, Pepco’s plans to enhance customer communications, and the company’s plans to improve electric reliability. Representing Pepco were Jack S.Chu, Sr. Supervising Engineer for Montgomery County, Charles Washington, Senior Public Affairs Manager, and George Scola, Supervisor, Utility Finance. The meeting was organized and facilitated by Rollingwood Citizens’ Association Board Members Sue Ducat and Patricia Moskof.

A special thanks to the numerous elected officials who attended the meeting, including State Senator Richard Madaleno, State Delegate Jeffrey Waldstreicher, and State Delegate Alfred Carr, along with Karen McManus of Congressman Chris Van Hollen’s office and Susan Buffone of Councilman Roger Berliner’s office.

Pepco's Charles Washington speaks to the group.

Pepco officials reported that three of the four electrical distribution feeder lines (FDRs) which service our neighborhood, FDR#s 14264, 14896, and 14900 are among the least reliable feeders in the County. They fall into the top 2% of poorly performing lines based on the criteria of high frequency and extended duration outages. These feeder lines handle electrical distribution from several substations in Washington DC and Montgomery County. So you may learn which line serves your home, please see this map(Please note the map is a little difficult to read, as we had to scan the original.)  Residents should use this information when reporting outages. Pepco officials stressed that the company has initiated plans to upgrade various sections of these feeder lines throughout 2011 and is committed to correcting the problems they have caused. Work on upgrades began in the first quarter of this year and is ongoing. Pepco provided a schedule showing the status, location, and time lines for this work, which you can access here(Please note the schedule is a little difficult to read, as we had to scan the original.  It prints well, however.)

Fielding a question from the audience.

Residents were eager to get answers to their questions. They expressed their frustration and anger at the inconvenience, costs, discomfort, and lack of information they experienced during severe and frequent outages and at Pepco’s failure to acknowledge the problems. They questioned the accuracy of the Pepco outage reports which officials handed out. Pepco’s response to all nineteen resident questions is posted here.

Residents learned that Pepco, in response to ongoing hearings held by the Maryland Public Service Commission that started in August of 2010, has developed a five year $500 million Reliability Enhancement Plan that addresses these six major issues: tree trimming, improving priority feeders, meeting increased customer demand for energy, installing advanced technologies, replacing aging infrastructure, selective under-grounding and supply line enhancements. Of particular interest are two sets of plans. One is to install advanced control systems that allow the electric system to identify problems and perform switching automatically so outages can be minimized and controlled. The second is to install devices that pinpoint exact addresses where outages take place. More details on this Plan are available at the Pepco web site                                                                 

Delegates Carr (left) and Waldstreicher (right) at RCA's June 8 Meeting. State Senator Rich Madaleno (not pictured) also attended the meeting.

Elected officials Madaleno, Waldstreicher, and Carr who spoke to residents at the close of the meeting stressed the view that Pepco’s past performance is not acceptable for our community or for any community in the State. Maryland State legislation they helped pass this year includes significant fines for outage incidents, efforts to hold Pepco accountable to meet its performance standards, and restrictions on Pepco’s ability to pass along any penalty costs to its customers.

Residents who wish to learn more about State legislation and enforcement can visit the Maryland Public Service Commission web site, and type in Case # 9240 in the box at the left. Residents with complaints or questions are urged to contact any of the following:

Pepco Customer Service 202-833-7500 or for power outage or restoration time 1-877-PEPCO-62
Maryland Public Service Commission 1-800-492-0474
District 18 State Senator Richard Madaleno 410-841-3137
District 18 State Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher 410 841-3130
District 18 State Delegate Al Carr 410- 841-3638
County Council Member Roger Berliner 240-777-7828.

RCA plans to set up a citizen committee co-chaired by Sue Ducat and Patricia Moskof to serve as a liaison between Rollingwood residents and Pepco officials. The committee’s mission is to ensure that residents’ concerns are being addressed, to improve communications, and to insure that pertinent information is distributed in a timely manner.

4 Comments on “Report on June 8th Pepco Meeting with Rollingwood Residents”

  1. Although what was reported about the meeting is essentially true, I believe that the five PEPCO representatives did a relatively mediocre job in explaining the true situation we have in terms of PEPCO electricity distribution in the Rollingwood Community, and comparing it to other electric utilities that service neighborhoods similar to ours. These five individuals should have walked into the meeting with a much better developed and focused presentation which showed more organized information about: (1) what has been the extent of the problem and why it has occurred; (2) how Rollingwood’s experienced electrical service reliability compares to other communities in the Washington DC and other major metropolitan areas with similar neighborhoods (more mature neighborhoods with heavy tree cover); (3) what steps and activities have been taken and will be taken with the community to significantly improve service reliability, and (4) depicition of the time frame of when these improvements will happen and what improvements are expected.

    Overall, I was disappointed by their presentation.

    Because of the extremely poor acoustics of the French School gymnasium, it was almost impossible for attendees to hear either the questions of the attendees or the responses of the presenters. Their supplied materials were hard to read and raised many questions. A better prepared presentation with organized information could have overcome this problem. (better acoustics would have helped too)

    I think that the most important take-away was the fact that three of our four feeders to Rollingwood were in the top 2% of poor relaibility feeders and this should result in PEPCO taking meaningful steps to trim back trees and install better, up-to-date equipment. As far as the prospect of a “smart” distribution grid, PEPCO acted like it was a futuristic pipe-dream for the long term future, not an active program for PEPCO. This is in contrast with many other major utilities around the country today.

    Overall, I was disappointed with the meeting with PEPCO. I was encouraged to see a good number of our political leaders attend the meeting, and I hope that they keep up pressure on PEPCO to improve this situation of unacceptable power reliability.

  2. Agree with Nainis but would call it a pitiful performance. Only the public affairs rep seemed to understand where he was and what we needed–but he couldn’t supply it. Pepco has generally been unregulated by the PSC. Until they–and the political leaders present–demand specific goals with specific timelines it’s all just fuzz. The real weapon is to change the franchise lines so that BGE or another relatively competent outfit gets our business.

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