In response to a letter that appeared July 20, Pepco appreciates the insights of writer Jay Levy (“Pepco cuts corners”), but his information is inaccurate.
Pepco has more than 500 internal (employees) and external (contractor) field personnel available to restore power following major storms.
In total, Pepco employs 147 permanent, bargaining unit employees in Overhead Lines. The company also has around 400 overhead line contractors — many of whom are local to the Washington region. Many of these contractors have long-term relationships with Pepco, some extending as far back as 50 years. Their employees know the utility system well and are highly qualified to perform overhead lines work, including restoration. Pepco has increased its contractor support since 2010, when the company ramped up its reliability enhancement work.
These contractor resources were available and used during the restoration from the June 29 derecho. In addition, Pepco can ask for restoration support from its sister companies Atlantic City Electric and Delmarva Power.
In comparison, 15 years ago Pepco had 162 permanent, bargaining unit overhead line employees (less than a 10 percent difference from today) and roughly 155 sustaining line contractors working fixed-period contracts. The number of line contractors performing bid work on our system then was few compared to what we have now.
Since December 2004, Pepco has hired 109 line mechanics, and Pepco currently has a requisition in progress for 14 additional overhead line mechanics. Recruitment and screening is ongoing. With the addition of these 14 employees, Pepco has virtually the same number of linemen that were on the property 15 years ago.
More important, the math shows Pepco’s combined total crew complement for ready response after major storms now exceeds 500 line workers and is more than at any other time in the company’s history.
George Nelson The letter writer is vice president of operations and engineering for Pepco Holdings Inc.