Article19 Mobile Command Vehicle 1

In an effort to prepare for what is expected to be the most active Atlantic hurricane season since 2012, Washington, D.C. area utility Pepco unveiled a state-of-the-art vehicle that will monitor storm developments and pinpoint areas where disaster assistance may be needed.

On May 25, Pepco officials introduced the mobile command unit at its office in downtown Washington. Dave Velazquez, president and CEO of Pepco Holdings, which recently was acquired by Exelon, said that “one bad storm can cause widespread property damage and outages.”

Velazquez said this year’s hurricane season is expected to be a “heavier than normal storm season.” Thanks to Pepco’s acquisition by Exelon, he said the utility can call upon the equipment and manpower of its “sister” utilities on the East coast.

The command center is divided into three areas. The back of the vehicle is an administrative center with a copy/fax machine and telephones with three satellite-generated screens. Its middle encompasses the entrance, a microwave oven and a small power generator center. The front is a “situation-room” with five large satellite screens, including one that has a map of the Washington metro area, as well as laptops and telephones.

John Anthony Tyler, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Pepco Holdings, said the vehicle will be a critical part of the company’s response to disasters.

“There are three objectives to our storm preparedness,” he said. “We want outage prevention through proactive investment and we want to have a sense of urgency to bring the right resources to affected areas as soon as possible. We also want to communicate to customers quickly so they can make critical decisions regarding what they need to do in a disaster situation.”

Pepco experienced outages during the hurricane season in 2015.

Tyler told the AFRO that the District will have one mobile unit; if additional coordination is needed, Pepco’s “sister” utilities will be contacted for use of their mobile command centers. He said areas that are the hardest hit by a disaster will be serviced by the mobile center and the vehicle can be quickly deployed to any area in the District within 20 minutes.