At 6:35 p.m. on Wednesday, several Greek houses in the 3900 block of Spruce and Delancey streets experienced power outages after a contractor from the Philadelphia Water Department hit a PECO cable when digging for a sprinkler connection in the 4100 block of Spruce Street.
A total of 285 customers were impacted. PECO has so far accounted for 258 individuals as of 8:40 a.m. Thursday. The situation of the remaining 27 customers is expected to be resolved sometime later this evening, according to PECO Communications Manager Ben Armstrong.
Armstrong noted that the time taken to restore energy service to the area is due to the nature of the damage inflicted on the cable by the contractor.
“Due to the extent of the damage caused by the contractor, we will have to do full repairs in the area,” Armstrong said. “We’re unable to restore service until we make permanent repairs.”
A media relations official from the Philadelphia Water Department Laura Copeland confirmed the organization’s involvement in the power outage.
“I can confirm that our crews were working out there and did accidentally strike a PECO line,” Copeland said. “No one was hurt and we did contact PECO who came on site to inspect.”
The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and Student Intervention Services worked jointly to provide alternative lodging for the affected Greek members at the Sheraton Hotel in University City.
“Approximately seven Greek chapter houses in the vicinity were impacted by this power outage,” OFSL director Eddie Banks-Crosson said in a statement to The Daily Pennsylvanian. “It is our understanding that power should be restored sometime Thursday.”
This is the second power outage the area has experienced in two weeks. The first took place in the evening of March 13, the day before a snowstorm hit Philadelphia. This was reported on the PECO website as a planned outage, but service was not restored to the area before March 15.
Response to the second power outage was similarly delayed with 27 customers still awaiting restoration of services. An outage on 45th and Walnut streets was also reported to the DP by Armstrong earlier today.
College sophomore and Chi Omega member Jamie McCann said she found PECO’s delayed response to both power outages unacceptable given the cold weather and freezing temperatures the city was experiencing.
“It’s honestly pretty dangerous and inconsiderate of an entire block,” McCann said. “Plus, not everyone on the block is a Greek house so many of them didn’t even get the option to move somewhere when they had no power during the snowstorm and had to fend for themselves.”
McCann and fellow Chi Omega member and College sophomore Lauren Kahn added that PECO did not provide those impacted with a concrete restoration time. The company first stated that repairs would be completed by 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday when called by an affected individual. However, their online power outage map later indicated that the repairs would be finished by 9:50 p.m. This estimated restoration time was later changed again to 11:00 a.m. today.
“The power was supposed to be on at 11:00 a.m. Now it’s 4:00 p.m., and now it’s anywhere between six and eight,” Kahn said. “We haven’t heard any updates today, unfortunately.”
College sophomore and member of Phi Kappa Psi Ezra Brooks said not only did the power outage inconvenience those living in the organization’s fraternity house, but it also disrupted the social atmosphere of the fraternity.
“It’s nice to have a group of friends that can meet at a central meeting place and often a fraternity’s chapter house serves as that place,” Brooks said. “But now when the house doesn’t even have any lighting, there’s no incentive to be there.”
“I would like [PECO] to be more transparent with their estimated restoration time because telling us 9 p.m., then switching to 11 a.m. the next day is ridiculous and leaves us scrambling to make alternative plans,” McCann said. “It’s also irresponsible to have people without power overnight during snowstorms and temperatures that were well below freezing.
"I just hope this problem ceases because I’m really tired of having to deal with PECO and having to figure out how I’m going to do my homework and charge my phone on school nights," she added.
Staff reporters Chris Doyle and Olivia Sylvester contributed reporting.