WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 21, 2016) – We are monitoring the approach of a cold front, which is expected to move through the region early this afternoon and into the evening, sparking severe thunderstorms that are capable of producing 60 mph wind gusts, hailstones, lightning strikes and a small chance for an isolated tornado.
These storms could damage the electric system and cause power outages. In response, we have scheduled additional field and call center personnel to be ready for the restoration of service.
We have about 150 internal linemen, 250 contractors and 180 tree-trimming personnel assigned to the system. Should we need assistance, we could potentially draw upon resources from our family of companies including those from Baltimore Gas & Electric, PECO in Philadelphia and ComEd in Chicago.
Customers are asked to please report any outages and to stay away from any downed wires. To report outages and/or downed wires, please call 1-877-PEPCO-62 (1-877-737-2662), follow the prompts, and please ask for a call back to confirm that power has been restored. Outages also may be reported through pepco.com or through our mobile app.
We’ve been alerted to a scam variation that primarily threatens to shut off electric service to customers because of false overdue bills. As in previous cases, like the “Green Dot Scam,” a person warns customers their electric service account is delinquent and will be shut off for non-payment unless immediate payment is made. A “Green Dot” prepaid money card is the scammers’ payment of choice because they can immediately collect the money, and the cards are not traceable.
The new reported twist involves criminals impersonating utility workers and appearing in person at a site with false credentials while the intended target simultaneously receives a phone call allegedly from the utility company.
The latest information from law enforcement is that the call looks real because the scam uses a spoofed Pepco phone number that may appear legitimate. The person calling also provides a reply phone number that directs customers to a phony automated Pepco answering service.
We want our customers to know that Pepco would never threaten to disconnect service without first offering multiple payment options. We do not endorse a specific form of payment to address past-due accounts, and our automated calls do not include a specific dollar amount for security reasons. If you have any doubt about the validity of a person who claims to represent Pepco, they should call our Customer Care line immediately at 202-833-7500.
We actively work with authorities to protect our customers. We strongly encourage not providing personal protected information. We advise customers to report any suspicious activity to local authorities, including the District of Columbia Office of the Attorney General and the Maryland Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division.
Our WaterShed Sustainability Center will showcase the latest electric vehicles (EV) from BMW, Tesla and Ford Motor Company this Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. and show customers the benefits of electric powered vehicles. The event kicks-off National Electric Drive Week in partnership with the Electric Vehicle Association of Greater Washington, D.C., whose members will attend with their various models of electric vehicles.
National Drive Electric Week, which runs from Sept. 12 through Sept. 20, is a nationwide celebration to heighten awareness of today’s widespread availability of plug-in vehicles. It highlights the benefits of all-electric and plug-in hybrid-electric cars, trucks, motorcycles and more.
The WaterShed Sustainability Center is located at the company’s Rockville Service Center, 201 West Gude Drive, Rockville, Maryland. It is a living classroom and laboratory for sustainable energy that features multiple electric vehicle charging ports and other hands-on, interactive displays.
WaterShed is a natural focal point for having a discussion and educating the community about the benefits of sustainable water practices and sustainable energy technologies such as solar energy and electric vehicles.
We encourage customers to visit our Sustainability Center to see comfortable, sustainable and energy-efficient practices at work. If you plan to bring a large group, we ask that you contact Scott Tjaden at WaterShed@pepco.com prior to your visit.
We have made preparations for the 2015 hurricane season and remind customers to prepare for the possibility of damaging severe storms that could hit the region any time between now and Nov. 30. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season activity will likely be below normal but warns that coastal areas could see storms. For the six-month hurricane season, which began June 1, NOAA predicts a 70 percent likelihood of six to 11 named storms with winds of 39 mph or higher. Three to six of those storms could become hurricanes with winds of 74 mph or higher, including two major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or higher.
“Pepco continues to invest in enhancing the reliability of our electric system with a focus on fewer and shorter outages, but customers should always take steps to be ready for emergencies,” said Donna Cooper, Pepco region president. “Our storm readiness includes implementing a more efficient process to better manage crews, providing more accurate restoration times by area and improving communication with all customers.”
Storm readiness is also a year-round job for NOAA, which is responsible for tracking weather systems and providing the public with data, including hazardous weather alerts through the National Weather Service.
“Whether there’s one hurricane in the Atlantic or 25, it’s all a matter of whether a storm strikes our area,” said Chris Strong, National Weather Service warning coordination meteorologist. “We need to be ready for four threats: flooding rains, tornadoes, extreme high tides and wind damage.”
Pepco’s overall 2015 storm readiness includes:
- Advanced metering technology that limits the amount of times it is necessary to send a truck with a crew to inspect an individual customer’s service. Pepco’s control center is now able to view metered service remotely, which reduces our carbon footprint and reaches larger known outages sooner.
- 150 permanent line personnel and 250 contract line personnel on the system and ready to respond to emergencies.
- A continuously updated free mobile app with interactive outage maps and more accurate restoration estimates to provide a convenient way for customers to get more information and reach us in the event of an outage. Our mobile app is available at http://www.pepco.com/mobileapp.
- An enhanced website outage map that provides more detailed views of outage situations and improved methods of providing estimated times of restoration.
Since 2010, nearly 8,200 miles of trees trimmed to enhance the reliability of Pepco’s system.
- Some immediate tips to help customers to prepare are:
- Assemble an emergency storm kit, including:
o Battery-powered radio or television
o First-aid kit
o Battery-powered or windup clock
o Extra batteries
o Special needs items, such as an insulated cooler
o A list of important and emergency phone numbers
- For people using life-support equipment that requires electricity to operate, please identify a location with emergency power capabilities and make plans to go there.
- Keep at least a three-day supply per person of non-perishable foods and bottled water, as well as a hand-operated can opener.
- Have a telephone with a cord or a cell phone to use as a backup. Cordless telephones require electricity to operate and won’t work if there is an outage.
- Protect electronic equipment. Unplug sensitive electronics or plug computers and other sensitive equipment into surge suppressors and consider an uninterruptible power supply for temporary battery backup power.
- Turn off power to flood-prone basement appliances if it is safe to do so. However, if using an electrically operated sump pump, the customer should not turn off the power.
- Have adequate prescription medicines or infant supplies on hand.
- Tune to local news broadcasts for the latest weather and emergency information and follow the advice of their local emergency management officials.
If using a personal generator, please take all recommended precautions, including:
- Never use a generator indoors or in an attached garage. A portable generator is an internal combustion engine that exhausts a deadly gas called carbon monoxide or CO. Be sure to place the generator outside where exhaust fumes will not enter into enclosed spaces.
- Don’t connect your generator directly to your home’s wiring. If a generator is plugged into the electrical circuits of a home, it can back feed power into the utility company lines, which can injure or kill utility workers fixing downed power lines. It also can cause downed lines to re-energize.
We remind customers to practice safety when someone claiming to represent the utility company contacts them either in person or by telephone. Scammers are telling customers that Pepco no longer serves their area and that they must provide personal information to open a new account. We are aware of these types of scams and it’s not unique to us. Nationally it’s been an issue, affecting utilities.
We ask all our customers to keep an eye out for scammers posing as third-party energy suppliers. In the past, scammers have attempted to target customers through fake utility bills, “official” emails that contain viruses or malware, and by pretending to be Pepco representatives and requesting monetary payment over the phone or in person. Since we often contact our customers through these same channels, it is important that you verify the identity and affiliation of anyone who calls or shows up at your door claiming to be a representative.
Similarly, make sure to only pay your utility bill through the mail, at one of our walk-in centers, online or through our mobile app. If you have any doubts about the validity of a person’s claim to represent one of our companies, contact us by phone immediately. We care about our customers and are committed to helping our customers manage their accounts. Customers can call our customer care line at 202-833-7500 for additional information.
Our customers are able to shop among certified competitive electric providers. Whether you choose to stay with Pepco as your electric supplier, or choose another supplier, we will continue to provide safe and reliable electric distribution service. For more information on customer choice please visit Pepco’s website at www.pepco.com.
We’re currently upgrading our customer information system. During this time, some of our self-service features may be unavailable or have limited functionality. Here’s some information regarding services that are affected.
Our mobile app will still be available to report outages and view outage maps; however, there may be a few hours throughout this period during which these features will become unavailable. During that time, please call customer service at 202-833-7500 if you need to report an outage.
Additionally, you’ll still be able to pay your bill through the mobile app. Please note, your account balance may not be updated in the app until our full transition is complete on or around January 5, 2015.
My Account will have limited functionality during our transition and your most recent energy use information will not be available.
You’ll still have access to the following self-service features on My Account:
- View past energy use information
- View and pay your bill
- Reset your password
Customers who are not currently signed up for My Account will be unable to do so until after our transition is completed.
Customer Service Call-In
Some self-service features normally available through our customer service number are also unavailable. You can still call us to report an emergency situation or outage, and to make a payment. Additionally, customer service representatives will be available to assist you stop, start or transfer service, investigate billing issues and discuss third party supplier information. To speak with a representative about your account, please call during normal business hours, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
We appreciate your patience during this transition. For more information about this upgrade, visit pepco.com/accountfaq.
We want to remind our customers of payment programs for those who may be experiencing financial conditions that make it difficult to keep their accounts current during these cold weather stretches and higher usage periods. Many of these arrangements can be made directly over the phone by calling (202) 833-7500 and following the simple instructions or through a customer service representative. Either way, we are more than glad to provide help through difficult periods throughout the year.
- Special Payment Arrangements: we have a variety of individually tailored payment arrangements available for customers aimed at bringing their account up to date over a mutually agreeable period of time. Call (202) 833-7500 and follow the simple instructions or speak with a customer service representative.
- Budget Billing: Customers can avoid seasonal peaks in electric bills by dividing their payments evenly over the course of the entire year. This plan makes it easier to budget and pay electric bills each month, because customers know their regular payment amount.
To sign up for budget billing, customers can register either by calling customer service at (202) 833-7500 or online through “My Account,” a secure self-service option that will allow customers to:
- View and pay their bills
- Sign up for eBill (paperless billing)
- Get e-mail notification when bills are ready
- Take advantage of features that can help save energy
Once customers register for My Account, they just need to log in and click on the “Budget Billing” button.
- Extended Payment Date Plan: This allows residential customers whose main source of total household income is from government or other low-income entitlement programs to request a regular extension of their bill due dates without incurring a late charge so their bill due dates align with the dates they get their checks. To apply, call us at (202) 833-7500 or submit the enrollment form online at pepco.com.
- Energy Assistance Programs: Some federal energy assistance may be available through state and local assistance programs. Customers can get more information on those programs by calling us at (202) 833-7500.
To save energy and money, customers can call Customer Service or visit our website at pepco.com/energy/conservation/ to learn more about programs to help pay for more energy-efficient products, simple steps to conserve energy usage and how to monitor energy consumption.