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Pepco’s getting ready for winter and says you should too

At Pepco’s Benning Service Center in Southeast D.C., regional president Donna Cooper called the utility’s winter preparations “truly an all-hands-on-deck exercise.” (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)

WASHINGTON — With winter weather coming, Pepco on Thursday let customers know what they’re doing to get ready — and what customers can do too.

At Pepco’s Benning Service Center in Southeast D.C., regional president Donna Cooper called the utility’s winter preparations “truly an all-hands-on-deck exercise.” She said Pepco “has already begun essential work” to get ready for the cold and snow, including inspecting equipment such as switches and poles as well as computer systems.

They’re also trimming trees to keep power lines clear, Cooper said, adding that trees and other vegetation cause about 40 percent of outages.

Cooper and other officials on Thursday also advised residents how they can help avoid, and get through, outages.

Pete Pederson, Pepco’s manager for emergency preparedness, advised residents to “treat all downed wires as energized wires,” and report them, or any outages, by calling 1-877-PEPCO62 or going to Pepco’s website.

Kristy O’Hearne, Pepco’s customer care manager, acknowledged that electricity bills can spike during the winter, and said “We want to ensure that customers who are most vulnerable to high utility bills are familiar with the various assistance programs.”

She first advised customers needing help to call Pepco’s call center at 202-833-7500 to make arrangements; she added that government assistance was also available; there are links to the D.C. and Maryland programs in the Customer Support section of Pepco’s website.

Chris White, deputy director of D.C.’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, added that D.C. residents should sign up for AlertDC at AlertDC.dc.gov.

Paul Carden, regional disaster officer for the American Red Cross-National Capital Region, advised residents to know which of their neighbors might need help in an emergency: “Know who is that person who is a shut-in or needs help. … And reach out to them.”

More advice for customers from Pepco:

  • Make an emergency kit, which includes a battery-powered radio or TV; a flashlight (you should have one on every floor); a battery-powered or windup clock; extra batteries; any special-needs items or medication; a multipurpose tool; cellphones with chargers and a list of important and emergency phone numbers.
  • Keep a supply of bottled water and nonperishable foods.
  • Put caulking, weatherstripping and insulation.
  • Set up another place for you and those in your household to stay, in case the power is out for a long time.
  • If you have a generator, recheck the instructions. Also, don’t run it indoors or connect it to your wiring.
  • Download the Pepco app.

WTOP’s Nick Iannelli contributed to this report.


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