The White House, State Department, Capitol and University of Maryland were all affected by widespread power outages across Washington and its Maryland suburbs on Tuesday afternoon.
PJM Interconnection, a regional transmission organization that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in numerous states including D.C. and Maryland, told ABC7 News that several generating units tripped and went offline. Spokesman Ray Dotter said PJM was attempting to restart the power stations, but there was no estimated time for power restoration.
The utility company Pepco, which directly serves many of the areas impacted, said it was investigating the outage reports. Spokesman Sean Kelly said he did not have details about specific outage locations or how many customers were affected.
Officials with the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency told ABC7 News that there were no indications that the electrical problems were the result of a terrorist event.
Metro said rail service continued throughout the region despite the loss of electricity, but at least 14 stations were operating on backup power.
Electricity in the White House dipped around lunchtime, but service resumed within seconds when emergency generators kicked in. Power went out at the State Department during the daily press briefing, forcing a spokeswoman to finish comments in the dark.
University of Maryland officials said their entire College Park campus was affected and there were reports of some students trapped in elevators.
The Smithsonian said the outage was affecting some of its museums on the National Mall, and they were all evacuated. The outage also disrupted a speech by Oprah Winfrey at D.C.’s Warner Theatre during the unveiling of a Maya Angelou postage stamp; First Lady Michelle Obama and Attorney general Eric Holder were in attendance.
The outages were reported to extend as far out as St. Mary’s and Charles counties in Maryland. St. Mary’s police and firefighters reported that traffic lights throughout the county were not working. Charles County authorities said they responded to reports of an explosion at a power plant in Newburg.
Weather throughout the D.C. area was overcast, but there were no storms at the time of the outages.