Pepco, bury those lines
By Bill Askinazi
During the past 16 years that my family and I have lived in Montgomery County, we have endured ice storms, rainstorms, lightning strikes and blizzards. Over that span, we, along with tens of thousands of our neighbors, have inevitably suffered through power outages. The unpredictability of weather and its consequences is, well, predictable. This cycle of downed trees falling on power lines that result in outages is also painfully foreseeable to everyone except, apparently, Pepco.
This last blast of winter’s rage has again triggered a cycle of weighted trees and downed lines, resulting in massive outages. This time it was coupled with falling temperature, resulting in extremely dangerous conditions. My elderly neighbors slept through indoor temperatures hovering just above freezing. Residents have succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning and indoor fires. Young families have bundled babies out of their residential ice boxes to hotels.
Pepco’s failing infrastructure is as dangerous to the public as are any crumbling bridges and bursting water mains. The utility cannot afford to ignore this life-threatening issue any longer. Its management must immediately step up and announce that it is embarking on a policy to bury the lines and enhance power distribution and transmission. Not only will the aesthetics of our communities improve, but we will be spared the anguish and turmoil associated with leaving home to find warmth.
We recognize that Pepco cannot control the weather. It can, however, begin to responsibly adapt its business practices to mitigate the known dangers that the next storm will bring.
The writer was assistant secretary of business and economic development for Maryland from 2002 to 2006.
| February 16, 2010; 10:10 AM ET
Categories: HotTopic, Maryland, Montgomery County, weather
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