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Utility companies prepare for power outages

Utility companies in D.C., Maryland and Virginia are preparing for the potential of widespread power outages as a result of blizzard conditions this weekend. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON — With the potential for whiteout conditions, freezing temperatures and winds gusting over 50 mph, utility companies across the area are preparing for widespread power outages through the weekend.

Pepco

“Our crews are prepared for this weather event and will work safely and diligently if there are any interruptions in power because of this storm,” Pepco President Donna Cooper said.

Pepco has 150 internal linemen, 250 contractors and more than 200 tree crews on hand to respond.

The company is also preparing to call in extra staff and is participating in mutual assistance calls with utilities in other states.

“Safety is our number one priority,” Cooper said. “We urge our customers to stay clear of working crews and any wires hanging loose from poles or lying on the ground.”

Pepco customers can report outages by calling 1-877-PEPCO62 (1-877-737-2662), visiting their website or through a mobile app, available for download.

The District’s leaders are very concerned about widespread power outages.

“If we have less than 25,000 customers without power at the end of this storm, it will have been a good day,” Chris Geldart, director of the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, said.

He said the District and Pepco have been coordinating and preparing for the blizzard.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said people should hunker down and shelter in place until the storm passes. “This is a major storm. It has life and death implications.”

Geldart suggested everyone have enough food and water for 72 hours, in case the power goes out. “Make sure you have a battery-operated radio and a flashlight.”

Do not use candles and keep alternative heat sources, like space heaters, away from anything that could catch fire.

“If you’re running a generator, let’s make sure the generator is outside and that we don’t have it inside in an enclosed area where carbon monoxide can be an issue,” Geldart said.

Dominion Virginia Power

“As you can imagine, we are most certainly in a heightened preparedness mode,” Dominion Virginia Power spokesman Chuck Penn said.

Dominion has additional crews ready to be dispatched to the hardest hit areas.

The company plans to activate its three regional storm response centers and corporate emergency center to support outage restoration efforts.

Dominion customers can report and check the status of power outages on their website or by calling 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357).

Baltimore Gas and Electric Company

“We want our customers to remain safe by preparing for this weekend’s winter storm in the event there are power outages,” BGE Vice President and Chief Customer Officer Robert Biagiotti said.

The electric and gas provider said it has 3,200 workers ready to go to work if people begin to lose power. In addition to local crews, 900 workers from as far away as the Midwest have come to town to help.

The concern is the wind and heavy, wet snow.

“Any time you are dealing with that combination, you have to prepare for the possibility of power outages,” said Justin Mulcahy with BGE.

Residents are asked to keep the areas where utilities meet the house clear of snow, as long as it is safe to do so.

BGE urges its customers to maintain an emergency supply kit, including flashlights, fresh batteries and a battery-operated clock radio.

Outages and downed wires may be reported on their website or by calling 1-877-778-2222.

Reporting outages to other power companies

Potomac Edison: 888-544-4877 or click here.

NOVEC: 888-335-0500 or click here.

SMECO: 877-747-6326 or click here.

Rappahannock Electric Cooperative: 800-552-3904 or click here.

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