Save our mature trees from PEPCO's proposed 'improvement' efforts
To Max Maxwell, Pepco Vice President for Asset Management, and Vincent Orange, Pepco DC Region Vice President: While we appreciate the time and effort that Pepco has applied towards the issue of improved reliability of electrical service in the Palisades, we have grave reservations about both the rationale and scope of the proposed changes. We believe that decisions with such sweeping impacts on the character of our community must be made deliberately and after stakeholders have had the chance to evaluate all options. We know that we can - together - bring reliable electric service to the Washington DC Palisades neighborhood while retaining a green community. Specifically: 1) Rationale for the project has not been clearly proven by data. Pepco representatives have stated that the removal of hundreds of trees along the trolley line and removal/severe pruning of trees on MacArthur Boulevard is necessary in order to increase reliability. However, data provided shows that in Ward 3, just 40% of the outages in the last two years have been caused by trees. We would like to see specific data from Pepco on outage locations. If we knew, for example, that trees on the trolley line on one block caused 29 outages, each lasting several hours, then we as the neighborhood might support significant tree removal or pruning in that area. 2) Pepco should consider other stakeholders and issues, and explore synergies with other agencies. We need a more strategic dialogue for the long term benefit of both Pepco and the neighborhood. We would like to see representatives of the Public Service Commission, Verizon, Comcast, DDOT, WASA, the PCA, Urban Forestry Administration, DC Trails, the Office of People's Counsel, Councilmember Cheh, and our Advisory Neighborhood Commission have a seat at the table as part of Pepco's effort to develop a long-range vision. 3) We are not convinced that Pepco's proposal, a continuous run of the thick, 3-wire preassembled cable (PAC) down MacArthur that would impact 12 mature trees, is the only way to improve reliability. All alternatives need to be considered. As part of the process of identifying alternatives, we would like to see specific information on the real cost of burying cable underground for both MacArthur and the Trolley Line. We would also appreciate an analysis of the costs of removing the feeder line from MacArthur and shifting it back to the trolley line, thereby providing a long term alternative to at least the MacArthur Boulevard side of the question. 4) Trolley line right-of-way issues remain unresolved and are of serious concern to the affected homeowners. 5) Rationale for the project has been touted as "increasing reliability," but Pepco is including upgrading capacity in its plans. We believe Pepco is playing on the frustrations of some residents and businesses who have suffered outages to push through a project that would not be acceptable if termed an "upgrade."