Tag Archives: pepco

Pepco Green Wall On 12th Street Finally Completed

Long time readers know that building DC’s largest green wall in Brookland has been an ongoing project of ours. The idea started back on January 15, 2013, the day I first contacted Pepco. I had the crazy idea to ask if they would be willing to invest in beautifying the 12th Street substation #133. The bare brick wall of the substation stretches along 3/4 on the west side of the 3100 block of 12th Street NE (between Irving and Jackson Streets, NE). Those who are familiar with the wall know it is not a pretty site for the residents across the street and for all neighbors who walk up and down the street.

Finally, on Friday May 19, 2017 the project was finally completed when the native vine, Carolina Jessamine  (which were recommended by the Greater Brookland Garden Club) were planted in the new, recently expanded cut outs alongside the substation wall. Here is slide show of photos which document the transition of the wall from 2013 until today. (You need flash to see the photos, if you can’t see them, click here.)

Four years and four months of careful negotiating, meetings. research and lobbying for support in the local community required a lot of patience and waiting. Many of you will remember when I called out for support with a petition here on the blog to support our project. The overwhelming response from the community for sure made it much easier to make a strong case talking to Pepco.  With that said, I need to mention 2 key players in this process, without whom this project would have never succeeded:

Casey Trees

Mark Buscaino, Executive Director of Casey Trees, stood with our efforts unequivocally from the very beginning. He provided the (sometimes necessary) weight and pull of his well respected non-profit organization, as well as his experience in negotiating with large corporations like Pepco. We couldn’t have asked for a better partner than Casey Trees. After all, their mission is to restore, enhance and protect the tree canopy of our nation’s capital.

 Donna Cooper, Pepco Region President, learned about our request and agreed to meet to learn more about our ideas. The nature and size of our inquiry is clearly not within her usual realm of responsibilities. We owe Ms. Cooper a lot of gratitude in that she spend quite a bit of her valuable time on this project. Unfortunately, we experienced some delays in the process with the team she delegated the project to. But every time we contacted Ms. Cooper she was extremely helpful and made sure the  work on the project was kicked back into gear.

Shani and I have committed to ensure the plants get watered, especially through the hot summer months. Neighbors have asked me, if there is anything they can do to help. There are a few things that could help the “Green Wall” to thrive and become a beautiful feature in our Brookland neighborhood – it will be the collective little things, that will make the difference. First, ever since the first planter boxes were created, we noticed that they tend to “attract” litter. If you are passing by and see any trash in or around the boxes it would be great if you  picked it up. Also weeds need to be pulled whenever they pop up. The more of us keep an eye on the space alongside the trellis, the less effort it is for each individually to keep the space clean, appealing and flourishing.

Brookland’s “Green Wall” Project Finally Becomes Reality

Readers may remember our petition from January 2013  to bring a “green wall”  to the Pepco Substation 133 building on the 3100 block of 12th Street, NE (between Irving and Jackson). Back in April we finally got word that the project was a go. Now we are happy to report that the trellis structure along the entire 12th Street length of the Substation wall has been installed, and portions of the sidewalk have been cut out for planter beds to hold the vines. Now we just have to  wait for the vines to grow! Here are some pics:

We would like to thank the following folks who were instrumental in making this project possible:

  • Casey Trees Executive Director Mark Buscaino. Mark didn’t hesitate to represent the Brookland community to Pepco, offering his expertise and using the influence of his organization,  which added more weight to our case.
  • Donna Cooper, President of Pepco. Donna heard our request to beautify the building in early 2013 and met with us on multiple occasions. All this despite her busy schedule and obviously, much larger issues to deal with, and in the end, she approved the plan.
  • Our 300 + readers who gave us overwhelming support for this idea via our petition. This encouraged us to not give up on this plan over the years, and of course showed Pepco that DC residents pay attention to what large corporations give back to the community.
  • Joe Barrios, former ANC 5B04 Commissioner and an involved and engaged neighbor. Joe’s legal expertise and advice helped us greatly at the negotiations table.
  • Kenyan McDuffie, Ward 5 Councilmember. Mr. McDuffie was the catalyst in the very beginning of this process. He hosted the first meeting with us, Donna Cooper and her team.
  • Mary Pat Rowan of the Greater Brookland Garden Club who  provided her expertise as a landscape architect.

The vines that were planted were Carolina Jessamine, which should look great year-round since they are evergreen and produce fragrant yellow flowers in spring. We are excited about this improvement for our community and hope that our neighbors are excited too!

Pepco Green Wall For 12th Street Finally Confirmed

Mark Buscaino announcing the green wall last night
Mark Buscaino announcing the green wall last night

Many readers may remember our petition to bring a “green wall”  to the Pepco Substation 133 building on the 3100 block of 12th Street, NE (between Irving and Jackson). Well,  we have great news to share! Last night at the Canopy Awards, hosted by Casey Trees, Executive Director Mark Buscaino announced that we should see a “Green Wall” trellis structure along the entire length of the  Substation wall, and cut out planter beds to hold the vines, installed by mid July. According to Mr. Buscaino, it will be the largest green wall in Washington DC. Pepco will install the structure and plant the vines, and overall, the end product is going to be better than what we originally asked for.

Help us turn this wall into a unique green space!
Current Pepco wall

I would like to give the biggest credit and many thanks to Mark, who didn’t hesitate to represent the Brookland community, offering his expertise and using the influence of his organization,  Casey Trees, which added more weight to our case.

Along with Mark, another key person who made this project possible was Donna Cooper, President of Pepco. Donna heard our request to beautify the building in early 2013, listened to our case, and met with us on multiple occasions. All this despite her busy schedule and obviously, much larger tasks and issues she has to deal with, and in the end, she approved the plan.

It has been a long process, which started two years ago when I approached Pepco and suggested that the huge brick wall along their substation needs some green beautification. It was obvious that it would improve the appearance of the building, but also act as a noise buffer and reduce the storm water run off. I reached out to the local community here on the blog and received overwhelming support for this idea, which encouraged me to not give up on this plan, and of course showed Pepco that DC residents pay attention to what large corporations like Pepco give back to the community.

The negotiations went back and forth often with months of delay in between. Design, maintenance plans, plant choice and permits were just a few of the aspects that had to be agreed on and taken care of.

Lastly, I would like to mention two other people who were instrumental in making this project possible.

Joe Barrios and CM McDuffie at a 2013 Brookland event.
Joe Barrios and CM McDuffie at a 2013 Brookland event.

Joe Barrios, ANC 5B04 Commissioner. When we began this process, Joe wasn’t Commissioner yet, but he was an involved and engaged neighbor. Joe’s legal expertise and advice helped us greatly at the negotiations table.

Kenyan McDuffie, Ward 5 Councilmember. Mr. McDuffie was the catalyst in the very beginning of this process. He hosted the first meeting with myself, Shani and Donna Cooper and her team. He requested updates on a regular basis and nudged Pepco here and there to add some very helpful official pushes in the right direction.

This is the most recent design plan provided by Pepco:

Pepco Green Wall Design Plan

We hope to have more plans and updates as the project moves forward this summer. We are so excited that this win-win concept will be brought to bear for our neighborhood.

Ward 5 Power Line Undergrounding – Less Is Going Underground Than You Think!

DC PLUG
Logo courtesy of DC Public Service Commission

In March, Mayor Vincent Gray signed a bill that funds an ambitious project to bury a portion of the above ground power line system in the District (see this Washington Post article). The project has been named DC PLUG and is scheduled to be implemented over the course of the next 7-10 years. A big and long lasting project like this, with a budget of $1 Billion, needs public scrutiny, awareness, inclusion and feedback.

We wrote here last week that the DC Public Service Commission started a series of public hearings to give residents a chance to learn more details about the project and to testify to the commission with their concerns, ideas and suggestions.

I attended the Ward 5 hearing on August 24. I was disappointed that only very few Ward 5 residents took the opportunity to hear the presentation about details of the proposed project. LeRoy Hall (Brookland resident and activist), Mary Pat Rowan (President of the Greater Brookland Garden Club) and Tom Bridge (President of the Brookland Neighborhood Civic Association) were the only people other than me, who testified. Hearings like this are a great opportunity to interact with public representatives and decision makers.

 Caren Bacon (Pepco) and Keith Foxx (DDOT) gave a presentation about what to expect in the months and years to come regarding the construction to put selected power lines underground. On page 10 of the presentation you can see which streets construction is scheduled for and what lines in particular are being put underground. I was surprised to hear that not all lines (i.e. cable) are going to be buried once a trench has been dug up in the street. Ms. Bacon explained to me that cost is the reason for not burying all lines and connecting the households underground. With that said, unless a collective of DC residents convinces Pepco that we deserve the extra investment  funded by the profit that they are making of the rates we are paying them, none of the poles will disappear and our trees will have to continue to endure drastic pruning. BUT, I was told that once the primary feeder [which runs power of very high voltage] has been removed, the pruning can be much less aggressive around the remaining secondary power lines.

Image courtesy of Casey Trees

I am also very excited to report that our friends at Casey Trees have testified at the Ward 7 meeting to make their expertise heard. Maisie Hughes, the Director of Planing and Advocacy at Casey Trees, stressed the importance in her testimony to protect the existing trees during the construction process and to assure the best possible conditions to enhance the tree canopy in the District for decades to come.

Here is a link to the audio recording of that meeting on August 24. There is still the opportunity to submit written comments to the DC Public Service Commission until September 15 2014. On their website it reads:

Any person desiring to comment on the application may file comments with the Commission no later than September 15, 2014. All written comments should be sent to MS. Brinda Westbrook-Sedgwick, Commission Secretary, Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia, 1333 H Street NW 2nd floor, West Tower, Washington D.C. 20005.

There are more hearings and meetings to come in the following months. Keep checking the Commission’s website to review all past and scheduled future events and meetings.

Pepco Hearing About The Undergrounding Of Some Power Lines

The Public Service Commission will convene several community meetings on Pepco’s undergrounding proposal. The Ward 5 date and further information is included below:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

July 24, 2014 – 6:00 p.m.

UDC/Bertie Backus School

5171 South Dakota Avenue, NE

Washington, DC 20017

(Ward 5)

Further details are available on the PSC website.

            

Those who wish to testify at the community hearings should contact the Commission Secretary by the close of business three (3) business days prior to the date of the hearing by calling (202) 626-5150.  Representatives of organizations shall be permitted a maximum of five (5) minutes for oral presentations.  Individuals shall be permitted a maximum of three (3) minutes for oral presentations.  If an organization or an individual is unable to offer comments at the community hearings, written statements may be submitted to the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia, 1333 H Street, NW, Suite 200, West Tower, Washington D.C. 20005.

Any person who is deaf or hearing-impaired, and cannot readily understand or communicate in spoken English, and persons with disabilities who need special accommodations in order to participate in the hearing, must contact the Commission Secretary by close of seven (7) business days prior to the date of the hearing.  Persons who wish to testify in Spanish, Chinese, Amharic, or Korean must also contact the Commission Secretary by close of business three (3) business days before the day of the hearing.  The number to call to request special accommodations and interpretation services is (202) 626-5150.

Bertie Backus: 5171 S. Dakota Ave. NE (near the Fort Totten Metro station on the Red, Yellow, and Green lines)
The first location provided by the DC Council in 2009 is the renovated Backus school – home to UDC-CC’s practical nursingnursing assistant, and home health aide programs and the architectural engineeringfashion merchandising andconstruction management degree programs. Continued expansion is planned.

Public Service Commission of D.C. And Pepco Hold Community Hearing On Thursday About Plans To Underground Power Lines

In March of this year the Washington Post reported that the ambitious plan to underground main power lines in the District would go underway this year. Based on information from Pepco President and Chief Executive Joseph M. Rigby quoted in the article, some of Brookland’s “feeder” power lines are scheduled to be buried among the first of the three year plan:

In the first year, work is planned in the following neighborhoods: American University Park, Spring Valley and Chevy Chase in Ward 3; Brightwood, Crestwood and Takoma in Ward 4; Michigan Park and Brookland in Ward 5; Marshall Heights, Benning Heights and Hillcrest in Ward 7; and Anacostia, Fairlawn, Congress Heights and Washington Highlands in Ward 8.

PSC and Pepco have scheduled a community hearing for Ward 5 residents for this coming Thursday. See the following details:

July 24, 2014 – 6:00 p.m.

UDC/Bertie Backus School

5171 South Dakota Avenue, NE

Washington, DC 20017

(Ward 5)

Further details are available on the PSC website.

            

Those who wish to testify at the community hearings should contact the Commission Secretary by the close of business three (3) business days prior to the date of the hearing by calling (202) 626-5150.  Representatives of organizations shall be permitted a maximum of five (5) minutes for oral presentations.  Individuals shall be permitted a maximum of three (3) minutes for oral presentations.  If an organization or an individual is unable to offer comments at the community hearings, written statements may be submitted to the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia, 1333 H Street, NW, Suite 200, West Tower, Washington D.C. 20005.

Any person who is deaf or hearing-impaired, and cannot readily understand or communicate in spoken English, and persons with disabilities who need special accommodations in order to participate in the hearing, must contact the Commission Secretary by close of seven (7) business days prior to the date of the hearing.  Persons who wish to testify in Spanish, Chinese, Amharic, or Korean must also contact the Commission Secretary by close of business three (3) business days before the day of the hearing.  The number to call to request special accommodations and interpretation services is (202) 626-5150.

Bertie Backus: 5171 S. Dakota Ave. NE (near the Fort Totten Metro station on the Red, Yellow, and Green lines)
The first location provided by the DC Council in 2009 is the renovated Backus school – home to UDC-CC’s practical nursingnursing assistant, and home health aide programs and the architectural engineeringfashion merchandising andconstruction management degree programs. Continued expansion is planned.

Updates: Brookland Capital Bike Share and Pepco Green Wall Projects

I am sure many of you are wondering what ever happened with two projects I solicited support for: the Capital Bike Share (CaBi) station on Irving Street and 12th and the Pepco Green Wall Project.

Capital Bike Share:

Capitol Bikeshare Station in Brookland near CVS at 12th and Newton Streets NE. Photo courtesy of Elvert Barnes via Flikr.
Capitol Bikeshare Station in Brookland near CVS at 12th and Newton Streets NE. Photo courtesy of Elvert Barnes via Flikr.

As we reported on December 17, the CaBi station on 12th and Irving Street NE was supposed to be installed with a long list of other locations by March 31. Obviously that didn’t happen. I have been bugging my contact at the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) over and over again to get some more information from him, but all responses are very vague. The most recent email from April 30 said:

“Hi Astrid, while other stations are going in around the city, we are waiting to install yours when we have a permit for the CaBi station at the Rhode Island Ave Metro station. Metro is working on it and should have it in the next couple of weeks.”

Well, that is the official version. Through the grapevine I heard though that since New York City has apparently contracted the same company for their new bike share stations, new DC stations have been delayed. So let’s just keep our fingers crossed, that we do not have to wait so much longer.

Pepco Green Wall:

Green Wall

Since meeting with Pepco in person in February, I have been in contact with VP of Pepco Donna Cooper via email. Although it sounds like the Pepco Team is working hard on our proposal, I can’t help but wonder what takes so long. Here are the most recent updates from Ms. Cooper:

March 8:   Astrid, How are you? I hope that all is well. We are reviewing your most recent proposal and plan to have our review concluded by the end of next week. We will then have an internal meeting to review the results and will schedule a meeting with you; thereafter.

April 9:   Astrid, We have been working on a conceptual planter box idea (design), as proposed in your e-mail. There is final review being conducted concerning vegetation options, related to the building integrity issues we referenced earlier. In addition, final reviews are underway concerning stormwater collection. The Civil & Structural Engineering Division is working to close out these two items and schedule a meeting; thereafter. The vegetation item is being addressed by the end of this week. I will update you after that meeting (internal).

April 22:   Astrid, I am awaiting the final analysis and upon receipt, I will update you. It is underway (the two areas referenced earlier).

Well, we are now in the second week of May and I yet have to hear from Ms. Cooper about their decision/offer. I will continue to respectfully press the issue with Pepco, and I will inform you about any updates.

For all those of you who are reading about this for the first time, please feel free to sign our petition in support of our efforts to make the large wall of the Pepco substation on 12th Street more appealing, more environmentally friendly and a little bit of a sound buffer. Thank you in advance for your support.

Update #3: The “Pepco Green Wall Project” In Brookland

Hello neighbors! It’s been a while since our last update, so we thought you like to know what is going on regarding our effort to add a green wall at the Pepco substation on 12th Street, NE. Thanks to Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie we had a face to face meeting on February 20 with the following attendees:

– Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie
– Tim Clark (McDuffie Staff)
– Donna Cooper (Regional Vice President, Pepco)
– Chris Taylor (Public Affairs Manager, Pepco)
– Theresa Sollecito (Civil / Structural Engineer, Pepco)
– Shirley Harmon (Environmental Compliance Assessment Manager, Pepco)
– Shani and myself
 
The Pepco Team clearly had concerns about our proposed concepts, especially regarding tree root structures potentially damaging the network of utility lines that run underneath the walkway. However, Donna Cooper promised us that all aspects of this project will be looked at, and that she is committed to finding a solution that will satisfy all parties involved. We all agreed that we have to meet again. I offered that I would do more research on technical aspects and that I would review our proposal based on the feedback I took away from the meeting. But at the same time, I made it clear that I am not going to give up easily and that I feel a responsibility towards the Brookland community to fight on their behalf. Over 160 of you have expressed their support by signing our Green Wall Petition. For those of you who still want to sign – it is not too late. Sign HERE. As long as this project is still in the planning and negotiating phase, every new signature is welcome and helpful.I sent a revised rendering to Pepco on March 3. Ms. Cooper acknowledged the receipt and committed to schedule another meeting after the proposal has been reviewed internally. We think this new concept would be a great compromise since vine roots do not grow deep enough to damage any underground structures. Here is what the improved rendering looks like:
Green Wall
 
Shani and I committed to ensure the watering of the plants. That was one aspect that Ms. Cooper was very clear about. Pepco would NOT take primary responsibility of day-to day maintainance the green space. We are exploring ways to ensure there is dedicated community support for the upkeep of the green wall.
 
It has to be mentioned that Casey Tree’s Executive Director Mark Buscaino has been a huge help. He has offered a lot of guidance along the way and has offered to hold the next meeting at his headquarters and to support our effort with his expertise. I hope it will not be too long until I hear back from Pepco, and the next meeting can be scheduled. I am very optimistic that this effort will result in an awesome project.
 
I will keep you all posted on any new developments and updates.

Update #2: The Brookland “Pepco Green Wall Project” Petition

Help us turn this wall into a unique green space!
Help us turn this wall into a unique green space!

Hello readers, three weeks ago I asked you here on the blog to support my effort to have the large wall of the Pepco substation #133 on 12th Street NE transformed to a more green and environmentally friendly site. The feedback we have gotten from the community has been so positive, that I thought readers would like an update on the progress of the “Pepco Green Wall Project”.

Here is what has transpired so far.

  • We are close to reaching 150 signatures for the petition.
  • The BNCA (Brookland Neighborhood Civic Association) and the Greater Brookland Garden Club submitted letters of support for this project. Many thanks to Caroline Petti, Mary Pat Rowan and their members.
  • We have made some inroads with Pepco representatives, and expect to have a meeting with them in the near future about our proposal.
  • Based on my request, the office of Ward 5 Coucilmember Kenyan McDuffie has also contacted Pepco and is involved in the debate about the project proposal.
  • Councilmember At Large and Brookland resident David Grosso has acknowledged my request, but has not yet decided whether he will support this project.
  • Just today I received an email from the Public Affairs office at Pepco with the following message: “I wanted to provide you a brief update.  We are conducting a feasibility study now on your request.  It should be wrapping up soon.  Once it is complete, we will reach out to you for next steps and potential meeting dates.”

Although I always want things to move forward faster, I think this status is quite good for just 3 weeks into the process. But that doesn’t mean that I am not going to be persistent and pushy.

At this point our proposal to Pepco is complete, but it is still not too late to sign the online petition and to ask friends and neighbors to do the same. Every signature is valuable and adds more weight to the petition.

I will post any new developments on this project here on the blog, so stay tuned and wish us luck.

Update: The “Pepco Green Wall Project” Petition

Hello neighbors,

We have reached the 50 petition mark in support for the “Pepco Green Wall Project”. Thank you so much to all who supported this effort with their virtual signature.

But, I know we can do better. I am sure there are more Brooklanders out there who would like to see more green space added to our neighborhood, and who would like to see Pepco giving something back to the community. I set a personal goal to reach at least 100 signatures before I deliver my package to Pepco.

Please share the link to the petition with your friends and neighbors, and ask them to support this project. Remember, the more weight we can add to our proposal, the more demand we can create.

pepco wall 3