- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 20, 2003

Utility crews yesterday restored power to about 500,000 local customers whose electricity was cut early Friday by Hurricane Isabel.

Nevertheless, about 585,000 metropolitan-area customers remained without power yesterday, utility companies reported.

Hundreds of linemen — some on loan from out-of-state utility companies — worked 12-hour shifts to repair transformers, string new power lines and reconnect homes and businesses throughout the region yesterday.

“We’ve got an army out there,” said Bob Dobkin, a spokesman for Potomac Electric Power Co. (Pepco), which has 720,000 customers in the District and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

Pepco crews restored power to more than 200,000 of the 570,000 customers who lost electric service during the hurricane, Mr. Dobkin said yesterday.

At 6 a.m. yesterday, 570 of Pepco’s 700-plus crews hit the streets for another 12-hour shift. The company has tapped electric companies as far as Kentucky, Georgia and Michigan for help in the restoration effort.

The utility has recorded about 1,900 instances of fallen wires in the company’s service area, and some downed trees were keeping workers from areas where power needs to be restored, Mr. Dobkin said.

“We’re still looking to the north to bring in additional crews,” Mr. Dobkin said. “We anticipate having power restored to all our customers by Friday.”

More than 300 traffic lights are still out of service in the District. Mr. Dobkin said crews have made a priority of restoring traffic signals at high-volume intersections and restoring power to grocery stores.

About 87,000 D.C customers, 155,000 in Montgomery County and 128,000 in Prince George’s County were without power yesterday, Mr. Dobkin said.

BGE, which serves more than 1 million customers in central Maryland and Baltimore, had 3,000 customers in Montgomery County and 26,000 in Prince George’s County without power yesterday. The company had 510,000 customers in central Maryland without power yesterday, having restored electricity for 150,000 since Friday.

Dominion Virginia Power, which serves 2 million customers in the commonwealth and North Carolina, had 186,155 Northern Virginia customers without power yesterday, down from the 390,000 that lost electricity Friday.

In total, the company had more than 1.2 million customers without electricity.

Meanwhile, Pepco stopped distributing dry ice at three locations in its service area because its supplier company was powerless for part of Friday and could not produce enough.

“There’s no way to get it. It’s not there,” Mr. Dobkin said. “We had good intentions. We ordered 850,000 pounds. We regret it, but we tried.”

Dominion Virginia, however, began distributing dry ice at 6 p.m. yesterday at Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax.

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