Utilities receive EEI award for power restoration efforts

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The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) has awarded its 2011 Emergency Recovery Awards for exemplary efforts in restoring power to customers following Hurricane Irene in August 2011. Recipients included Pepco Holdings (PHI) and its utilities, Atlantic City Electric, Delmarva Power and Pepco, Dominion Virginia Power, Central Vermont Public Service;,Central Maine Power and FirstEnergy.

In 2011, PHI invested nearly $900 million in transmission and distribution infrastructure and advanced technology to improve reliability and customer service. PHI launched a special emergency restoration improvement program that included more than doubling the number of telephone trunk lines to its Washington, D.C., region call center; developing mobile applications for customers to report and track outages; and upgrading each utility's website to enhance emergency communications with customers.

Other changes implemented to enhance storm performance included setting up regional storm centers for more efficient crew dispatch; improving the estimated time of restoration process; leveraging technology and outside contractors to conduct real-time damage assessment from the field; augmenting emergency response personnel; and establishing a backup crisis call center.

PHI's reliability and restoration efforts were tested when Irene swept through with 70 mile an hour winds and 11 inches of rain.

"Power was restored to 98 percent of our customers in little more than two days," said Joseph M. Rigby, PHI Chairman, President and CEO. "This significant effort required mobilizing nearly 3,000 internal and external personnel and effectively executing our recently updated restoration plan."

Over the next five years, PHI will invest $5.6 billion in its power delivery business to further enhance system reliability.

Just four days before Irene hit, a 5.8 earthquake hit Virginia and caused the automatic shutdown of two nuclear reactors at Dominion's North Anna plant; however, Dominion Virginia Power's transmission and distribution grid came through unscathed and Dominion was still able to restore power to 95 percent of its customers within two days.

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