Working to Get it Right

Two weeks ago, I became aware of Business Insider publishing an online article labeling us number one on their list of “The 19 Most Hated Companies in America.”  Today, the Washington Post used that article to publish “Pepco ranks as ‘most hated’ company in nation.”  Though this is a label we believe to be completely over the top, I decided to take a moment to shed some light on why we have been given this classification and what we are doing to completely remove us from lists like this.

In short, last year was the beginning of a tough year and counting for us.  It all primarily stemmed from customers experiencing extended widespread outages as a result of severe winter and summer storms.  We have heard our customers loud and clear and are working hard to upgrade our system.  Our goal is not to only shorten the number and length of outages, but to prevent them all together.

Since last fall, Pepco has been working non-stop to achieve this goal.  Our biggest accomplishments are the more than 1,966 miles of trees trimmed and the 300 miles of underground power cables upgraded.  We remain focused on these efforts as well as others including upgrading three critical substations in D.C.  To see a list of our projects and what we have accomplished to date, please check out our Reliability Webpage.

While we work to complete our multiyear plan to enhance reliability, we are also working to shorten power restoration times by quickly bringing in outside crews to respond to severe storms and installing advanced switches along our system to remotely re-route power and automatically detect the exact locations of outages.

I mention all of this because we are not satisfied where we are and we are working to restore faith in our customers and become a top performing utility!

Thank you,

Thomas Graham
President, Pepco Region

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This entry was posted in Customer Education, Power Outage, Reliability by pepcoconnect. Bookmark the permalink.

About pepcoconnect

Pepco, a subsidiary of Pepco Holdings, Inc., delivers safe, reliable and affordable electric service to more than 788,000 customers in Maryland and the District of Columbia. Pepco is committed to providing its customers with information on energy conservation, renewable energy sources and steps the company is taking to meet customers' changing needs.

17 thoughts on “Working to Get it Right

  1. You are the worst company cause your customer service is horrible.
    Your power uptime is the worst in the USA…..let alone major cities.
    The first step in getting off of this list is to accept responsibility.
    The second step is to create an action plan to address your problems.
    Listen to your customers and critics, and they will lead you in the right direction for improvement

    • Good afternoon! I apologize for it not being clear, but that’s precisely what we were doing in this post! We understand that we have work to do and we’re committed to doing it. Our primary focus is to restore faith in our customers and become a top performing utility again!

    • It’s great that you have a plan and are executing against it to try and solve this problem. However, I really have to wonder about that plan, specifically as it relates to the 1,966 miles of trees you’ve trimmed. In my neightboorhood, we have a lot of mature trees that have been marked for removal and many have actually been removed. From what I’m seeing on the neighborhood listserve, many people are upset by this work because it destroying much of the natural beauty that so many of the residents cherish.

      I’m wondering, have you actually worked with the homeowners whose trees you are removing? Did you get permission from them or are you simply coming in and taking them down because they pose a risk to the wires. If you didn’t get permission, I hope you do realize that these trees actually belong to people and are on private property. Even if they are on an easement, you still need permission to take them down.

      Maybe I’m wrong and Pepco did actually get permission to take these trees down. Then again, maybe not. Please enlighten me on this.

      • Thanks for initially commending us on our plan and its execution to improve reliability throughout our service territory. I’d like to briefly take a moment and answer your concern about our tree trimming practices though. In general, we only have the authority to trim without permission on two instances; along our right of way and on personal property when a tree (limb) comes into contact with our power lines. Anything else on private property can only be touched if the property owner gives us the green light to do so. We understand the connection that our customers have with trees in their communities, but we also have a commitment to providing safe and reliable service to those customers. Our foresters and contracted tree professionals work hard to find a happy medium to satisfy customers and allow the company to keep the lights on.

      • Thank you for the reply. I’m trying to figure out where the authority for the “unless” part comes in. If Pepco’s lines to my home cross over my neighbor’s property through my neighbor’s holly tree…and portions of my neighbor’s holly tree come into contact with my power lines…can Pepco enter my neighbor’s property and trim my neighbor’s tree without notice to my neighbor and without my neighbor’s permission? If Pepco can do that, where does that authority come from? An easement? A municipal rule/regulation? Or, if my neighbor doesn’t want his tree cut to clear my wires, can I request a mid-wire line drop so that my wires don’t have to cross over his property (and through his tree) to get to my home?

      • Once the tree threatens the reliability of our service by touching our property (power line), we have the authority to trim it. Do me a favor and send a detailed email to PepcoConnect@pepco.com. Be sure to include what you would like done, your service address, and a contact number.

  2. For convenience, below are portions of that email, along with additional questions:
    My question is why my neighbor’s power lines traverse my property instead of his own property. I have looked at my deed for my property; there is no easement or right of way granted for my neighbor’s power lines. So, why wasn’t pepco’s response to move his power lines? Why was the response to over cut my tree, without my knowledge or my permission?

    Can you point me to the source of Pepco’s authority to enter private property and to cut tress on private property for wires that serve a neighbor, not the property owner? And who assesses the claimed threat to the power lines? Is that documented anywhere? Are there any documents which support the claim that the removal/destruction of a large portion of my tree was necessary? And is that threat of damage to power lines supposed to be communicated to the property owner whose property you are entering upon? Is there supposed to be any weighing of alternatives to destruction of property? Is there a reason why a mid-wire drop isn’t done? Another neighbor on the street has a mid-wire drop… so it’s clearly not impossible.

    It may be that Pepco’s grant of authority to enter private property permits the destruction of trees on that property, but it is difficult to assess in the absence of reading that grant of authority. If that grant of authority is as limited as is stated in this blog (Pepco may cut trees on private property when they come in contact with wires)…it would seem that the only permissible cuts to a tree would be for individual branches that actually do come in contact. And again, where is the documentation that would support that any branch did, in fact, come in contact? It is my understanding that Asplundh does not make any assessments…they just cut. It is also my understanding that work orders are issued to Asplundh without any on-site evaluation by Pepco prior to issuing the work order.

  3. Now that I’ve experienced Pepco’s customer service I have to say the horrible rating makes sense. I personally don’t have a problem with power outages. I believe your company does the best it can during inclement weather situations. My issue is the fact that talking to anyone on the customer service line in regards to billing (or anything really) is like talking to a brick wall. They repeat the same rehearsed lines, and act as if its a credit collection agency and not a power company. Do us all a favor and hire professionals with a decent level of decision making authority who can differentiate between generic issues and those that should be passed along to a higher level employee. Also, does anyone have a first name? Who is “Ms.Smith”? You have all of my information, why can’t I know who I’m speaking with?

  4. Pepco has spent the last several weeks “trimming” trees in our community. I used the word “trimming” because it looks more like you have butchered. You take trees that are 50-100 years old and just chop off what you want and ignore whether this tree would ever pose a risk to your lines. You have blighted our neighborhood. Your crews contain no arborists, anyone able to use good judgment on what to cut. We have been told you have a mandate to cut four feet from the power lines, you seem to go much farther. Your crews seem to be afraid to use good judgment; afraid that taking a minimalist approach will get them fired. Just today you took out the center of my neighbors 40-foot tall magnolia located on their property. Your power lines cut across the corner of their lot. According to your website you were only supposed to cut the portion of this tree that touched your lines, you ignored them and cut what you wished. You did not stop and ask for a senior supervisor (some who knows the rules), not a crew chief, to talk to with the owner. You should have to pay the owners for your encroachment on their private property. Their ought to be a website area owners can put pictures of some of the tree trimming jobs you have done, something that will shame you into doing the job right and with more prudence.

    • Pepco realizes how important trees are to the beauty and environmental health of our area. We work hard to uphold a balance between aesthetics and maintaining electric reliability. The National Arbor Day Foundation has recognized Pepco as a utility that demonstrates practices that protect and enhance America’s urban forests.

      Pepco’s tree pruning is performed following the standards and practices as outlined by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) publication A300. Pepco also works with the D.C. Department of Transportation/Urban Forestry Administration to comply with its tree-pruning practices, and with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

      We appreciate you bringing your concern to our attention and would like to investigate your findings further. We want to ensure that our contractors are adhering to the standards set forth. Please send your address to pepcoconnect@pepco.com so that we may open an investigation.

  5. Wait! This gets your attention? Despite postings here and multiple calls outlining my complaint to Pepco, there’s been no resolution. And by resolution, I mean no response.

    • I had them open an investigation today. Somebody WILL be reaching out to you. I apologize that nobody responded to you when you originally brought this to our attention. That was unacceptable.

  6. I am writing for information, not to complain. My friend purchased a lot on Tucker Road to build a house for her family. There are power lines running along the property and, due to a 1935 Right of Way Agreement, she just found out she cannot build on the land. She is devastated and I am trying to help her. Can you put me in touch with the right person at PEPCO to follow up with? Thanks!

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