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Pepco readies for hurricane season

Thursday - 5/30/2013, 2:49am  ET

Downed wire demo encourages safety

WTOP's Kate Ryan reports from Rockville, Md.

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ROCKVILLE, Md. - Pepco officials say they are ready for hurricane season with improvements in performance and service. And they're advising customers to get ready for what meteorologists say will be an active hurricane season.

The Atlantic hurricane season starts June 1 and extends through Nov. 30. A Pepco press release reports that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts "a 70 percent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 miles or higher) of which 7 to 11 could become hurricanes."

To prepare for the busy hurricane season, Pepco says it has 150 permanent line personnel, 450 contracted workers to tackle line work, and has trimmed 5,800 miles of trees in an effort to prevent downed trees and limbs from knocking power out.

The utility has been under growing pressure to improve performance. Maryland's Public Service Commission questioned Pepco officials closely during its last rate increase request.

The Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia has also quizzed Pepco about the adequacy of its storm staff including whether there are enough full-time workers and how contractors are brought in when a storm is predicted.

At a news conference at Pepco's Rockville facility, Region President Tom Graham said that past problems with communications and service have been addressed. He noted the company has established apps designed to allows customers to track the progress of restoration work.

In the last two years, customers have complained that the outage maps were hard to read or inaccurate. Graham says that's been addressed as well.

"Our work continues, and we're not going to ease up," he says.

Pepco has two rate cases before local public service commissions. The utility is asking for a rate increase in both jurisdictions to help pay for installing wires underground and meeting new reliability standards.

To learn more about Pepco's mobile app, visit pepco.com/mobileapp.

If you spot a downed wire: 1-877-PEPCO-62 (1-877-737-2662)

Downed power line safety tips

A news briefing for reporters Tuesday also included a safety demonstration designed to show the danger of approaching downed power lines.

If you spot a downed wire, call 1-877-PEPCO-62 (1-877-737-2662)

WTOP's Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow @kateryanWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

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