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Posted at 7:43 AM ET, 02/ 7/2011

Pepco apologizes for outages in Post ad

By Washington Post Editors

In a full-page ad in The Washington Post, Pepco is apologizing for service outages following wind and snow storms this year.

The ad, which appears in The Metro section, is a letter from Pepco Holdings, Inc. President Joseph M. Rigby "to our customers, our neighbors."

"We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced," Rigby wrote. "The past year has seen several powerful wind and snow storms that have caused widespread and extended power outages for Pepco customers. Those outages have prompted storms of criticism. We regret that we are not meeting your expectations."

Rigby wrote that the utility will make improvements, "not...excuses." Pepco has begun working on a "Six-Point Reliability Enhancement Plan" that will upgrade the electric distribution infrastructure and protect power lines from damage from trees and other factors, according to the ad.

Rigby also wrote that he has ordered a "top-to-bottom" re-examination of its process for restoring power after outages.

The ad comes one day before Md. lawmakers are set to hold a hearing on the service outages following the most recent winter storm.

By Washington Post Editors  | February 7, 2011; 7:43 AM ET
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The time for I am sorry is old. Take out and make know what you are going to do to fix it! How about teaming with a Tree company to go throught the problem ares and cut back if needed or implement other fixes such as, moving lines under ground,shielding lines from trees, right sizing substations for shorter line runs.

Something otherthan I'm sorry. Its OLD.

Posted by: ggant | February 7, 2011 8:38 AM | Report abuse

The HNICs are at it again. All talk and poor management skills.

Posted by: TooManyPeople | February 7, 2011 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Pepco should be spending money on fixing their problems so they are able to deliver service regardless of the weather, not taking out an expensive ad in the paper.If they were really sorry they would reimburse customers for expenses suffered as a result of lost power. Really there ought to be a law....

Posted by: 10bestfan | February 7, 2011 8:43 AM | Report abuse

“A Washington Post investigation published in December found that Pepco's day-to-day reliability began declining five years ago and that Pepco ranks at or near the bottom in national surveys of reliability. The average Pepco customer experienced 70 percent more outages than customers of other utilities in major metropolitan areas.”

“Pepco has long blamed trees as a primary culprit for the frequency and duration of its outages, implying that the problem is beyond its control. But that explanation does not hold up under scrutiny, The Post analysis found. By far, Pepco equipment failures, not trees, caused the most sustained power interruptions last year.”
“In recent years, Pepco has placed near the bottom for daily reliability in surveys that compared power companies around the country. Pepco tends to have more sustained power interruptions, defined as those lasting longer than five minutes. And when the lights go dark, they tend to stay off longer. In one 2008 survey, Pepco finished last among participating utility companies on two of three reliability measurements, records filed with regulators show. Pepco stopped participating in that annual study after its last-place finish.”

My question is where has the money we have already paid for maintenance and reliability been going for the past five years?

Posted by: baechtel | February 7, 2011 9:09 AM | Report abuse

I completely agree with everyone's sentiment here and have no faith at all in Pepco's ability to make improvements, but I want to call attention to TooManyPeople's race baiting. HNICs? The company's management isn't even mostly black, so why make such a statement. Why does Pepco's issues have anything to do with race? And why not point out their incompetence for what it is instead of making up something that works for you but is completely untrue?

Posted by: getjiggly2 | February 7, 2011 9:20 AM | Report abuse

One problem with this approach is that President Rigby and his high-level colleagues are a big part of the problem, and their "six-point plan" does nothing about that. There are good people in PEPCO, starting the the linemen. They are just mismanaged.

Posted by: RepealObamacareNow | February 7, 2011 9:32 AM | Report abuse

It's time for a law to hit PEPCO. The cost for electricity has been going up each year and the service has been going down each year! Where is the money going to improve the reliability of power to the customers? I say no more increases to rates for PEPCO till they get their standings back up into the top 20% of the list. The PSC needs to be investigated for approving the increases in cost allowed for PEPCO to charge with no improvement in distribution of power during storms let alone on any given day. I live in PG County and where I live over half have installed Natural Gas generators as a electrical backup to PEPCO power lines. PEPCO should be fined and the cost should not come out of the customers costs for electricity. It should come out of the shareholders and the CEO profits. Make it hurt then and only then will PEPCO get off it's collective seat and do something that should have been done way before now.

Posted by: Concerned5 | February 7, 2011 9:50 AM | Report abuse

I am disgusted that the Post would take up a full page for this drivel, or accept Pepco's money for it. Pepco's "apology" is way insufficient and not unaccepted. The only 5 year plan that will work is that in 5 years, Pepco will be a distant and unpleasant memory.
Being "connected to Pepco" is like being trapped with an abusive spouse. He may apologise, he may work up a six-point plan to improve his behavior. But you know the beatings will get more frequent and worse. Getting rid of him is the only solution. Get rid of him before he kills you.
Three major outages in the past 12 months are all the proof I need that Pepco is beyond improvement and needs to stop wasting its time and my money. Pepco needs to be decertified as our carrier and replaced.
Pepco out. Now!

Posted by: Translynx | February 7, 2011 10:08 AM | Report abuse

The money should indeed be spend paying for additional crews rather than expensive ads that contain meaningless blather. Many many people have had their pay frozen for the past and upcoming years - how about as a gesture of good will (I laugh even as I write this) the Pepco execs take a freeze also?
I live in Silver Spring and had my power go on and off yesterday afternoon - a beautiful sunny day. No excuse for that.

Posted by: jackdmom | February 7, 2011 10:19 AM | Report abuse

"...ordered a "top-to-bottom" re-examination of its process for restoring power after outages." Hmmmm. We basically heard this a year ago. And how are we supposed to believe THIS time it will be any different? Pepco customers in MD are not getting what they're paying for NOR what they deserve -- even with all the trees.

Posted by: jimpierobon | February 7, 2011 10:19 AM | Report abuse

If Pepco and the local governments where they operate are serious about reducing the number of storm related outages, all they have to do is CUT DOWN THE GD TREES ON COUNTY STRIPS.

Posted by: dem4life1 | February 7, 2011 10:27 AM | Report abuse

PEPCO supposedly began working on their "Six Point Plan" last year. This is the corporate equivalent of "I'm sorry I hit you baby, it won't happen again"

Posted by: Irato | February 7, 2011 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Apologize for 'any' inconvenince... why not 'EVERY' inconvenince? & instead of taking out this worthless BS PR ad., why not credit folks $ back to our account, instead of charging us more to make up for what Pepco couldn't make the 1st time around? As consumers we certainly are held accountable, when the bill isn't paid. How about Pepco be held responsible for not providing services we consumers are STILL being charged for. ABSOLUTELY ridiculous! PEPCO... I nominate YOU for the GTFOH Award for 2011!

Posted by: The_Funknician | February 7, 2011 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I don't get it, all pepco has to do to avoid outages is trim branches that hang above overhead wires and maintain the foliage on the easements. Easy enough for trained crews, but a dangerous job for average people just trying to prevent the next outage. Last year a teenager in MoCo died from electrocution while he was clearing branches from the overhead wires in his neighborhood. This should never happen.

Posted by: smart-aleck | February 7, 2011 11:30 AM | Report abuse

And does anyone actually believe that Pepco would be issuing this apology if not for the hearings tomorrow? This was a carefully crafted ploy to make it sound as if they intend to change without actually making any specific promises. If you look closely at the language you will see that while they see they will make improvements not excuses they never actually admit to any mistakes. They blame the storms.

"The past year has seen several powerful wind and snow storms that have caused widespread and extended power outages for Pepco customers. Those outages have prompted storms of criticism."

If Pepco truly cared about their customers this so called apology would have real apologies- percent improvements in specific areas, guarantees to not include outages in use calculations and increased fees. Not a trite sorry that the storms made you unhappy.

I know people that live in the same power grid as Pepco in Rockville. Amazing how Pepco manages to have no disruptions in power in that grid.

Posted by: McCarthy911 | February 7, 2011 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Isn't this like a year too late? At least I got to watch the Super Bowl this year.

Posted by: luvdc808 | February 7, 2011 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Pepco services to many consumers isn't that great. In my opinion, many of their managerial staff should be terminated.

Posted by: CaptainKangaroo | February 7, 2011 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Pepco services to many consumers isn't that great. In my opinion, many of their managerial staff should be terminated.

Posted by: CaptainKangaroo | February 7, 2011 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Oh, good, an ad. Just what I needed. Later this week when it snows again and my power goes out, I can set fire to it. That'll be the first time in a snowstorm that I can rely on Pepco for heat and light.

Posted by: Alan_A | February 7, 2011 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Jut more excuses from Pepco. They didn't apologize for their poor performance, but for "incovenience to customers" -- the old "I am sorry if my remarks offended you" ruse. How about taking the money Pepco spent on this ad and using to fix the feeder line to my (all underground utilities) neighborhood so we wouldn't lose power constantly?

And let's not let the PUCs off the hook. Their lack of oversight and outrageous failure to exclude outages from the energy conservation rebate to Pepco look awfully suspicious.

Posted by: dcohen4 | February 7, 2011 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps the only way to get acceptable performance from Pepco is to make Pepco financially responsible, and the executives personally so. For example, would it be so outrageously out of line to have part of the President's multi-million dollar compensation package be based partially on his company's ability to keep the power on?

Also, consider the fact that fellow utility Comcast has to issue a prorate refund to customers for time their service is down. Pepco will be quick to point out that when the power isn't on, the meter isn't running, so no one is actually paying for the outage time, as they do for fee-based cable. Of course, that misses the point. The point is that they should have a responsibility and commitment to the consumer who is paying through the nose all year long. And, in real terms, the hours of work lost, the hotels paid for as homes become unbearably hot or cold, the hundreds of dollars in spoiled food thrown out, the cost of missing of activities at closed schools. If Pepco were required to pay for even a small portion of the damage caused by their slow and inadequate response, there would likely be a quick and dramatic improvement.

Posted by: gregg17 | February 7, 2011 4:15 PM | Report abuse

It is hard to take this seriously when just this week Pepco said it was not their responsibility to cut down a branch that has been weighing down power lines on our street since the big storm more than a week ago. Eventually Montgomery County did so after both Verizon and Pepco refused. Were they waiting for the lines to come down to call it their responsibility. How many power outages does it take to get Pepco to start taking a pro-active approach.

Posted by: parent125 | February 7, 2011 5:25 PM | Report abuse

It's really perfect timing, that this apology comes JUST after I emailed 2 of the "media" tramps that are posted on the Pepco site..(YES, Their emails ARE there!)..letting them BOTH know that customers in Montgomery County are NOT going to stand for Rigby's deliberate scufflaw behaviors, by not attending hearings or forums, or by not responding to our legislators letters with respect.

I basically said that his days are numbered here. And they are.

Do not allow this creep to control what kind of service we get in our electricity and power delivery, and do not ever allow any legislator slow down your seeking justice in this matter. If our lawmakers can't fix this, we can just keep climbing up the ladder until we find the ones who can.

The Department of Energy awarded Pepco 1 million dollars for SMART GRID technology. It was a GIFT! They are accountable for that federal GRANT money, as well as the 14 thousand dollars that they donated to Steny Hoyer's campaign in 2010, and $1000 each to all Reps and Senate in Maryland. Those are OUR TAX dollars, ad we have something to say about it!

Posted by: CountytaxpayingCHNII | February 7, 2011 6:26 PM | Report abuse

The problem with PEPCO really started duting the summer of 2010 (July-September). I lost over $200+ of food because of being w/out power. During those months the power was more off than on. We had to by ice and eat from coolers. Than comes the snow, wind, and ice in 2011. SORRY DOES NOT CUT IT. I pay my BILL faithly, how come you PEPCO cannot keep your promise. Why not reimburse us for lost of service, lost of food and lodging fees.

Posted by: Tangie069 | February 7, 2011 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Apology line is definitely worn and old indeed!

Posted by: eabgarnet | February 7, 2011 6:47 PM | Report abuse

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