Haus Schwatz: Cati's DC Real Estate


Please Explain This Nasty Blackout To Me

 Power lines,outages

What am I missing here?  It's Sunday night, close to midnight, and I'm sitting in the Evers & Company office, presumably the only person left in the building.  Am I here because I'm writing a contract? Or because I'm putting this awesome listing presentation together for tomorrow morning?  Or because I love the mountain of chocolates for "visitors" Billy keeps at the front desk?   Oh, no, none of the above.

I'm sitting here because my house, like - as of this minute - 211,000 others in Montgomery County and DC, has no power.  Why is that? I really don't have an answer.  It only happens about a dozen times a year here, preferably when it's either 100 degrees outside (90 in your bedroom, 80 in your fridge) or freezing.

So, while my family is quietly suffering in the dark, I brought a huge bag full of all our electronic devices and their chargers here.  I'm waiting for all those little red lights to turn green.

Ever since I moved to DC 15 years ago, I have been at a loss to explain those Third World-type dangling power lines to visitors from Europe.  The flying cables decorate urban and suburban neighborhoods alike, but what are they doing in this "metropolitan" area of a supposedly industrialized, modern country?  What are they doing in 100-year old streets that are dug up over and over again to accommodate FIOS and every kind of high or low speed cable thinkable except for the one that is actually essential to all of us?

This is the fifth major outage this summer alone because TREES are a threat to our electricity. Are you kidding me??! The local power company, PEPCO, actually explains on their website why outages are practically inevitable. It's ludicrous.

We have armies of security trying to prevent disaster and terrorist attacks.  Yet it only takes some trees to knock out a whole county.


P.S. Full disclosure:  I do love the chocolate.  It's kept me awake.

© 2012, Catarina Bannier


Comment balloon 9 commentsCatarina Bannier • July 26 2010 12:41AM


Well, on the bright side, you were probably never 'rewarded' with chocolate for charging the family technology!

Posted by Mike Mayer (Mike Mayer, Broker/Owner - i List For Less Realty, LLC) almost 9 years ago

Hi Catarina,

I remember those when we lived in Arlington, VA.

I hope you get the power back soon.

It is frustrating. And in summer it gets so hot and humid in the house soon after the AC is off!

I feel your pain, but I don't have the answer. :-)

Posted by Ally Wangsness - Seattle Real Estate Broker (RE/MAX Metro Realty, Inc.) almost 9 years ago

Catarina, the power is out because of two reasons.  One, because the weather is hot, and all the AC running puts a great stress on the electric grid.  That, coupled with # 2... which is all the HOT AIR that the politicians put out in DC... puts an even greater demand on the electric grid.  Thus... the blackout.

Posted by Carolyn Kolba, Keller Williams Realty- Mentor, Ohio (Serving Mentor, and all of Lake County, Ohio) almost 9 years ago

It would seem that the power companies would do better that constant black outs.

Posted by Tim Lorenz, 949 874-2247 (TIM LORENZ - Elite Home Sales Team) almost 9 years ago

They are called ROLLING BROWN OUTS because of the HEAVY DEMAND/USE due to HEAT (rarely COLD as peopel have fireplaces and portable appliances for this purpose)

If your local power company offers remote electric monitoring, you should encourage other agents, buyers/sellers to utilize this service to lower their bills AND not over-tax the power grid

Posted by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM, LandlordWhisperer (Gibson Management Group, Ltd.) almost 9 years ago

Cati, I talked to Dick last night, and he had no power in Alexandria!  I can just see you at the office, eating the Hersheys and watching the chargers!  Stay cool!

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) almost 9 years ago

Thanks to all of you who commented, and my apologies that it took so long for me to reply (guess what: I didn't have any power and limited time on the web :-) )

Mike--you're so right, and I feel guilty for not bringing any home to my suffering kids, but it would have melted there!

Carolyn--you made me laugh.  I guess a lot of those hot air guys got their punishment this week...

Wallace--they do offer remote monitoring (although not for me, as it turned out: but when we signed up for it, the guy that came out explained that with our ancient 22-year old furnace and AC there was no point).  However, the rolling brown outs/overtaxed system I could understand, but they are not the reason for the problems we have.  Ours are overhead power lines everywhere except in newer developments (built since the 60s). When heavy summer or snow storms knock over trees, which happens a lot, the trees destroy the power lines, sometimes miles of them in a matter of minutes.  It takes a lot of time, labor and material to repair them.  When you look at the picture above, taken in Frederick, MD, you get the idea. of course, in the picture, there are no trees, but there are plenty of them elsewhere. Power lines in residential areas belong in the ground!

As of today, 4 days after the storm, there are still about 17,000 households without power.


Posted by Catarina Bannier, DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way (Compass) almost 9 years ago

That was the one thing that used to drive me crazy when I lived in Northern Virginia.  It could be a nice but breezy day and the power would go out.  When Hurricane Isabel rolled through, did we lose power?  Nope.  A little wind and I was outside with my neighbors, cooking dinner on the grill! LOL

Posted by Emmary Simpson, Serving Las Cruces, NM (Las Cruces Homes and Land) almost 9 years ago

Emmary--I believe you! It's really insane, and it almost seems that most cities and communities elsewhere in this country have a more modern approach to technology!  (Oh, and congratulations on your courageous new start in the business--looking forward to hearing more about it!)

Posted by Catarina Bannier, DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way (Compass) almost 9 years ago