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Whenever storms knock power out, Pepco remains in the dark.

By 7.29.10

It was a strong windstorm...but not as strong as Pepco's resistance to correcting it.

More than 300,000 Pepco subscribers lost power late Sunday in suburban Washington; late Tuesday more than 91,000 were still waiting for the lights to come back on. But some things were learned. For a couple of days a Pepco computer was deciding when the power would be restored, judged apparently by the numbers without service. Some subscribers were told it would be in mid-September. Finally Pepco took to the airways and as much as said: "Don't believe anything we tell you. A computer is figuring this out for us." Last I heard my power would return early this coming Friday. It returned Tuesday night.

From Sunday to Tuesday was nothing. A few years ago I stood with a regional director of Pepco as we surveyed a downed tree down the block in Kensington. I was informed, "We don't do trees."

And they didn't. We were without electricity for 8 full days! We and several nearby blocks.

A neighbor had a relative visiting and he was driving a few blocks away when he happened across a truck from a New Jersey power outfit and a crew that was sitting around. The crew said there was nothing for them to do; Pepco had no assignment for them. The visitor said there was an area a couple of blocks away that had not had power for several days. The Jersey guys drove up, surveyed the offending tree, and in a matter of a couple of hours we had the power back! Not by Pepco design; by sheer happenstance.

I have heard many threats by powerless folk who put Pepco executives on their list of things to do.

This is not fair, I tell them, so long as there are uninhabited islands in the South Pacific. They could name their new-found paradise "Pepco-Metro."


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About the Author

Reid Collins is a former CBS and CNN news correspondent.