Pepco fails to fix store's electrical panel after 6 months

Updated 5/27/2008: It has now been a month since I wrote this post, and Pepco still HAS NOT fixed the electrical panel. This makes it 7 months, which is simply unacceptable. I am going to write to Chris Van Hollen, our Congressman, to see if he’d like to get involved in the matter.

Updated 6/09/2008: We received a reply from Congressman Van Hollen on 5/28/2008, just a day after I wrote to him via email, assuring us that he would look into the matter, and putting us in touch with one of his staffers, Miti Figueredo. Today, on 6/09/2008, Pepco showed up with a team of about seven people and got the electricity working again in a matter of hours. I know this wouldn’t have happened without Congressman Van Hollen’s intervention. Congressman, we are deeply grateful and thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Piano Place, the store where Ligia has her studio, experienced a power outage on November 2, 2007 (over 6 months ago). It was caused by a badly wired electrical panel outside the store, which caught on fire. Pepco, the local (and only) electrical company, has failed to fix that panel ever since, in spite of having the luxury of over 6 months to do it.

When the panel caught fire, the fire department and the police evacuated all of the stores for a day out of bureaucratic zeal, even though the fire didn’t spread inside the building. Then the store was without power for a few days until a generator was installed outside and connected to the electrical panels.

That same generator has sat outside the building since it was installed in November of last year (for over 6 months), waiting for Pepco to get off their lazy bums and fix the electrical panel. You’d think a job like this is of epic proportions, and that’s why it’s taking so long, but as you’ll be able to see from the photos, it’s something that could be done in a day or less with the proper crew.

The smoke on the wall mark the extent of the fire caused by the faulty panels. The wires that carry electricity inside the buildings weren’t damaged, because the generator is connected to them, and the store is able to feed off the generator to get part of its power. Pepco would simply need to fix the panels themselves, but they have offered up excuse after excuse during each of these six months. Appeals to their executives have not helped. The Washington Post has refused to get involved by publishing news of this complete failure in customer service.

Meanwhile, the store is paying $15,000 each month to rent the generator (with fuel charges extra), and still is not up to full power. It has had no air conditioning (only lights) all winter. That means they’ve had to do with space heaters here and there, and Ligia has frozen on many an occasion inside the studio because of Pepco’s utter laziness and unresponsiveness.

Now that summer is approaching and temperatures are climbing into the 80s, the store gets stiflingly hot (understandably so) on those days, because it has no air conditioning. Who’s to blame? Pepco, that’s who!

As if all this is not enough, the store has had the generator stolen once (the entire thing!), and on a separate occasion, it has even had the fuel siphoned off from the generator.

I have to wonder when Pepco will get their act together and fix the damned electrical panel. What will it take to get them to move on this?!

I see this as the strongest possible argument for competition in the marketplace. Pepco has a monopoly on the local power market. There is no other electrical company here, so Pepco can do whatever it pleases and get away with it. There is no one to hold them responsible. The lazy hacks can get away with treating customers like this for months and months, and no one from the local governments seems to care.

I find this outrageous, and I’m fed up with it. So the next time I hear one of Pepco’s hypocritical ads that say “We’re connected to you by more than power lines”, I’ll have to ask what they’re connected with: laziness, lies, inefficiency, procrastination, lack of customer service, monopoly, irresponsibility?

And when I see one of their trucks, I’ll know what sort of people drive them: the sort that would have people freeze in the middle of winter and bake in the summer heat rather than do their jobs.


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