Pepco fails at more than supplying power

Pepco, Washington’s main power company and Georgetown’s electricity supplier, now ranks “near the bottom” in several surveys comparing power companies throughout the nation.

According to a Washington Post analysis, Pepco customers suffer through seventy percent more outages than those of other major companies. After finishing dead last in a 2008 study, Pepco simply stopped participating in the survey’s rankings.

As Georgetown and the D.C. area gear up for winter, Pepco’s reliability record proves troubling. During last year’s Snowmageddon, 98,000 Pepco customers lost power in an outage that took the company almost a week to resolve. In contrast, power company Dominion lost electricity to 105,000 customers, but responded by restoring power in just over a day.

Pepco’s regional president Thomas Graham told the Post that, “The number one commitment today at Pepco is to increase reliability,” the company continues to blame the real culprit behind their problems—trees.

William M. Gausman, senior vice president for strategic initiatives, stated that, “The largest amount of outages from a frequency standpoint are tree-related.” While Pepco points to the environment for its outage troubles, internal records reveal that equipment failures, not tree troubles, are the most common source of power failures. Equipment malfunctions make up forty-four percent of Pepco’s failures, while trees make up only twenty-four percent.

Attempting to make up for its poor service, Pepco intends to increase spending on reliability upgrades. However, Gausman notes, “Ultimately, people will have to pay for these improvements.”

Photo from Flickr user ggrell

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