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Posted at 8:22 PM ET, 08/19/2010

'Without power' of communication at Pepco

By editors

By Deborah Shuman
Silver Spring

My experiences with the recent power outages are by no means unique or among the worst suffered by others in the region [“Pepco leaders defend effort after storms,” front page, Aug. 18]. My neighborhood was lucky enough to be without electricity for only a few hours after the Aug. 12 storm. But early the next day, something blew out on a utility pole, leaving just a few houses again without electricity. I immediately called Pepco and was told that the repair would be made by 5 that afternoon. Five o’clock came and went, and another call to Pepco informed me that the estimated repair time was now more than 24 hours later, at 8 the next night.

Later that day, I spotted a Pepco truck idling on a nearby street. I stopped to talk to the two workers and learned of their frustrations, not the least of which was periodically having to idle while they waited for their next set of instructions from the dispatcher. When I told them about my neighborhood’s plight, they offered to follow me around the corner to see what could be done. The problem turned out to be a simple one that took them less than an hour to fix, and my neighbors and I literally cheered in the street as we watched our houses light up.

I am no better informed than the average Pepco customer on the behind-the-scenes machinations that take place when the utility is attending to downed wires and fallen trees. But I do know this: Somewhere within the machinery that turns Pepco’s responses to these situations is a profound failure of communication. How ironic that, when the electricity fails, we customers refer to ourselves as being “without power.” Powerless, indeed.

By editors  | August 19, 2010; 8:22 PM ET
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Is Ms. Shuman aware that if the PEPCO workers had touched a live wire, including a line that was just energized a second ago, they would have died from electrocution? Is she aware that the reason that dispatchers have to send out crews is to ensure their personal safety, since the line workers don't know which lines are in the process of being re-energized?

I guess she's too full of herself to think things through.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | August 20, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Your point is well-taken, but I would presume that the line workers know this and contacted their dispatcher before touching anything.

Posted by: ceebee2 | August 20, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

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