In his Oct. 7 Metro column, "Must Trees Bear Burden for Pepco?" Marc Fisher criticized Pepco's aggressive tree trimming and its removal of two city-owned trees in the Barnaby Woods area of Northwest Washington. The columnist wrote, "The consultant's report Pepco commissioned following [Hurricane] Isabel didn't focus on trees."

The report did, however, recommend a comprehensive risk management program for trees. Damage from trees accounts for more than 80 percent of power outages during severe storms. That's why Pepco is working with communities to more aggressively trim trees and remove those that government foresters have identified as decayed, dying or posing a threat to the public safety or the electric distribution system.

Pepco responded to the criticism about power outages in the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel by working to strengthen electric reliability by improving technology, storm-recovery procedures and communication with customers. This month we met again with D.C. agencies to discuss tree management. Together, we have created a working group to plan how to better communicate with communities that have power reliability issues caused by trees.

Our goal is to help preserve healthy trees and, with city or county approval on public property, replace unhealthy ones with trees less likely to damage property or power lines in a storm.

Barnaby Woods has had 14 power outages caused by trees in the past two years. Pepco is talking with the city, which owns the trees, to improve the situation. We welcome the input of customers and recognize the need to provide more information about the work necessary to improve our system's ability to withstand damaging storms.

WILLIAM J. SIM

President

Pepco

Washington