Pepco Offers New Outage Line

Potomac Electric Power Co. is offering a new toll-free number to report power outages in the District. The new phone number, 1-877-PEPCO62, is intended to eliminate busy signals. It will handle up to 100,000 calls an hour, have an automated voice to handle calls in English or Spanish and provide reports on when power will be restored, company officials say.

The system will also automatically "read" customers' telephone numbers and note the location of an outage by recognizing a phone number if it is in Pepco's customer account system. To enable this system to work efficiently, Pepco officials are asking customers to update their phone numbers with Pepco. Customers can report new or changed phone numbers by calling Pepco's 24-hour update line at 202-835-1007.

December Pepco bills will include notices asking customers to make sure their phone numbers are up to date. The 24-hour telephone number for billing questions and other non-emergency calls will remain the same: 202-883-7500.

Seminars for Small Businesses

Local businesses will be the topic of two community seminars next week. On Monday, the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization and the Ward 7 Association for Commercial Enterprises Inc. will hold a small business briefing with members from the D.C. Office of the People's Counsel.

Topics to be discussed include local utility competition and consumer protection, Y2K readiness and utility conservation tips. The briefing will be from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization Board Room, 3939 Minnesota Ave. NE.

On Tuesday, the East of the River Community Development Corporation and the Greater Washington Board of Trade are sponsoring a free seminar on business incentives and contracting advantages for enterprise zones and Small Business Administration HubZones. The seminar, for firms east of the Anacostia River that are interested in obtaining contracts with D.C. and federal agencies, will discuss how to obtain "preferred status" in bidding, tax incentives for firms located in enterprise zones and technical assistance available for contracting firms.

The seminar will begin at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at St. John's CME Church, 2801 Stanton Rd. SE. For more information call 202-561-4974.