- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Pepco boasted on Wednesday it had “beat by two days” its estimate for restoring power to 90 percent of its customers in the wake of a fierce storm that devastated the region on Friday night.

The utility serving nearly 800,000 customers in Maryland and the District initially projected it could have the lights back on for 9 out of 10 customers by at 11 p.m. Friday - an estimate that remains in effect for the remaining 10 percent.

Pepco reported Wednesday afternoon that it had restored power to nearly 400,000 customers who were affected by the rare derecho that swept through the mid-Atlantic region. The company said “pockets” of customers may not have power until the weekend, but everyone should be restored no later than Sunday evening.

The highest number of remaining outages were in Montgomery County, or about 33,000 out of 310,000 customers. About 1,500 customers in Prince George’s County and about 2,300 customers in the District were still without power Wednesday evening.

Earlier on Wednesday, D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray said he did not have power at his Hillcrest home in Ward 7.

Across the Potomac River, the total number of Virginians without power early Wednesday afternoon had decreased to about 177,000, according to Gov. Bob McDonnell. At its peak, the storm had caused 1.2 million outages.

By Wednesday evening, Dominion Virginia Power was reporting that fewer than 18,000 of its nearly 832,000 customers in Northern Virginia were still out of power.

However, the storm’s death toll in the state rose to 12 after an incident in Richmond. The death was caused by a falling tree, the Associated Press reported. The nationwide death toll is now at 26 for the storm that started in the Midwest and moved quickly eastward.

The widespread outages have politicians and observers walking the fine line between criticism of the utilities and praise for their continuous work.

Officials in the District said they may launch a formal investigation into Pepco’s performance. They also may begin to bury power lines, bit by bit, in the city through a decades-long project that could cost $5 billion.



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