- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 9, 2001

Three power outages in Northwest on Tuesday night resulted from seasonal hot weather and were unrelated to the Georgetown electrical problems that have blown off manhole covers, and Pepco officials said yesterday similar outages may occur as a regional heat wave continues.
"Electrical systems are running at full load," said Robert Dobkin, spokesman for Potomac Electric Power Co. "We're fortunate that we've had relatively few outages."
In Adams Morgan, about 1,600 power company customers along 18th Street NW experienced the worst of the three outages, which came in the midst of temperatures in the upper 90s. Power ceased at 10 p.m. Tuesday and was restored to most customers 12 hours later. The remaining 10 businesses were back on line at 11:30 a.m. yesterday.
"Unfortunately, it was a pretty nice sauna," said Theo Sampel, who operates Felix Restaurant and Lounge in the 2400 block of 18th Street NW. Mr. Sampel's loss of electricity — and therefore the comfort of air conditioning — meant lost business.
"Some people stuck it out," he said, but others couldn't take the heat and left the lounge, which might otherwise have stayed open until 1 a.m. yesterday, Mr. Sampel said.
"The power's on now. We're hoping it'll stay on," Mr. Sampel said.
In addition to Adams Morgan, 1,500 customers in the 2500 block of Tunlaw Street in nearby Glover Park and 100 customers at Fifth and Q streets NW suffered outages. Power was restored at those locations in about two hours.
There have been five outage incidents since June, Mr. Dobkin said. Hot weather can increase the likelihood of outages. Cables and power lines heat up when there is greater demand, such as that caused by running air conditioners constantly.
Typically in such outages a fuse blows and sometimes transformer fuses blow. Power cables can smolder and burn, causing smoke to rise out of manhole covers, as was the case Tuesday at Fifth and Q streets NW.
Repair crews replaced a transformer at that intersection, and they fixed a "cable fault" at Tunlaw Street.
Work crews made permanent repairs overnight and another crew was on standby yesterday, occasionally monitoring the new repairs.
"We're not fully satisfied that we have remedied the situation," Mr. Dobkin said of the monitors.
The recent outages are not related to blown manhole covers in Georgetown, where the city's oldest electrical system is located. The heart of Georgetown's shopping district at M Street was without power for four days in June.
Under an agreement among Pepco, Verizon Communications, Washington Gas and the District, $40 million is to be spent to modernize that system, beginning early next year.
Coincidentally, the latest power outages come as the government gave anti-trust clearance to Pepco to merge with Connectiv. If other states agree, the merger will create the largest electric company in the mid-Atlantic region, supplying power to nearly 2 million customers in the District, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey.
Pepco — which currently has 700,000 customers in the District and Maryland suburbs — will pay $2.2 billion in cash and stocks and assume $3.2 billion in Connectiv debt.

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