According to a tipster, readers on South Capitol and 2nd St SW may be without power from 8pm to 7:30am tonight due to transformer repairs in the area. This is all well and good, except that PEPCO neglected to notify customers in the neighborhood that they would be without lights or AC, this evening. The reader that reported this saw some PEPCO repairmen in the area and asked them what was going on. They informed her of the maintenance work and she called the power company, who was kind enough to inform her that her house would be affected. After a search around PEPCO’s website and an odyssey through their multiple, automated and impenetrable customer support lines, I can find no listing of scheduled outages or maintenance. This means that customers are not being notified that their service will be interrupted. But then again, why should PEPCO have to tell you peons about that kind of stuff. It’s not like anyone needs power, or anything.
An electrical problem at the city’s Office of Unified Communications brought DC’s primary radio system for emergency responders to a halt on Monday night around 7:15pm. According to NBC4, system went down for about five hours, causing DC Fire/EMS and MPD to default back to their backup radios.
DC operates a trunked radio system for emergency responders, meaning that there is one master control facility for all the radio communications for the city. There are several transmission facilities, but it’s all routed through the computers near the big antenna cluster by McMillan Reservoir. The whole system went down due to a power problem, forcing responders to their backup radios. While there was confusion for a short while, the city’s policies for maintaining backup radio channels with Arlington and Montgomery County on the 800Mhz band allowed for an easy switch back to working communications centers. DC Fire/EMS set up a temporary command center at 6th and F St NW to coordinate extra assistance during the five hour outage.
If the rainy weekend has you thinking of home repair, now might be a good time to upgrade an old appliance if you’re a Pepco customer.
Yesterday, the local AC repair contractors company announced it will give cash rebates of up to $50 to residential customers in DC and Maryland who buy ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerators, room air conditioners and certain energy efficient water heaters. You can buy these babies at any area retail store. The rebates would be on top of federal tax credits and lower electric bill you could get.
The rebates are the first in a series of energy-efficieny programs set to go in place this year. In a press release, Pepco said these programs are expected to save an estimated 165,000 megawatt-hours of energy over the next three years and avoid almost 117,000 metric tons of carbon emissions, equal to taking more than 207,000 cars a year off the road.
Energy-efficiency programs also can help reduce Pepco’s electric load and lower the need to build new power plants.
It looks cool but it’s less pleasant to get hit by it. According to Pepco lightning strikes kill 400 people in the US every year – most of them in June, July, and August. So they’ve offered up this selection of tips for how to stay safer in a storm.
They don’t offer any tips for keeping your stuff safe, so let me drop some knowledge on you here: there is no consumer protection gadget out there that will protect your computer/DVD/tv/whatever safe against a close lightning strike. So-called “surge protectors” are typically one-use components (an MOV, to be precise) that may marginally protect against dirty power – but probably not. Lightning travels through the air so I assure you: it will have no problem jumping a nanometer distance or even across a power switch on a strip if the strike was close enough.
For 100% protection in an ugly storm, unplug.
[edit: accidentally left in 'kill' from a previous edit - Pepco claims approximately 60 fatalities out of those 400 who are struck]
Pepco announced a green honor today — its corporate headquarters has received the city’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance certification, at the Gold level. (See more about LEED and DC’s first LEED Silver office building.)
To earn the recognition, Pepco dropped the building’s energy consumption by nearly 17 percent and water use by 1.12 million gallons through retrofits and energy conservation measures. An audit and education programs increased recycling.
I applaud any efforts toward sustainability, including this one — yet feel I must point out that only about 4 percent of the energy coming over Pepco’s lines today to DC and Maryland is renewable. (Did you know you were burning that much fossil fuel?) To put your utility dollars toward green power, check out Clean Currents.
‘Screen on the Green’
courtesy of ‘InspirationDC’
I’m sure you’ve heard by now that HBO has canceled their sponsorship of the famous Screen on the Green summer movie program on the national mall. This is making DC’ers everywhere sad. Which, if you’re an area company, totally leaves room for you to step in and be the hero.
This is the perfect PR opportunity to win the hearts and minds of DC for those companies currently on the “Dead To Me” list. That’s right Pepco, with your always-expensive power bills, you could warm not only our homes, but our hearts. Your newfound love of twitter doesn’t absolve you, I want my movies! All that money you made off of us this winter? Give some back, okay? Comcast, I don’t think anything will ever make me love you after our wireless internet “incident”, but I might be more friendly if you saved Screen on the Green. Lerner family, you owe us big time. After withholding rent on the stadium from the city, building the team HQ building RIGHT in the Capitol sight-line, and trying to get DC to pay for the team uniforms, I think you’re due for a little good PR.
I don’t know about you, but I’d begrudgingly do the Comcast/Pepco/Lerner family dance if it meant I could watch my movies on the mall again. What company do you think should step up to win back our hearts?
While I mean that in a “give em hell” sense, there’s also an opportunity to tell them exactly how you’d like to see them use this new tool. Their social media lead, Andre, sent us a message which asked us to share this with y’all:
Their twitter id is PepcoConnect if you want to follow them and see how they end up using the service.
Last week’s Thrifty District story was eerily familiar to me. My good friend Rebecca, over at Inspiration DC, has gone through almost the exact same Pepco disaster that Tiff featured in her post. She’s got a 700-square foot apartment, top floor of a building in eastern market, with two small bedrooms, one bathroom and a kitchen you can barely fit into. And she comes home to a $500 electricity bill.
With Pepco recently foraying into social media (welcome, welcome!) we thought we’d put the system to the test. We tweeted Rebecca’s story and Andre Francis, the Twitter dude (aka the Social Media Lead) over at Pepco, got on the case. Read on to hear the story from Rebecca’s point of view, and to hear what @PepcoConnect has done to resolve her case. Maybe you’ll learn some tips on how to deal with your own massivly large Pepco bill…