Responding to residents’ increasing frustrations with Pepco’s response and overall performance during several severe weather emergencies this year and to help assure reliable electricity for the County, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett today announced the names of residents selected to serve on the new Pepco Work Group. The group will identify and investigate causes for the frequent electricity outages and their duration.
Leggett said “It is incredibly important that we do not go through again what we experienced in February and July and August. While Pepco may be focused on these individual storms, we can’t afford to stop there. We have to figure out why Pepco power outages occur regularly, on even the nicest of days, threatening life, inconveniencing families, and costing our businesses millions.”
The group’s work plan will consist of four parts:
1) Identify and investigate the causes for frequent outages and the duration of the outages in the Montgomery County portion of the Pepco service area;
2) Investigate and review Pepco’s historic comparative position to other utilities regarding service stability and reliability;
3) Report the group’s findings; and
4) Recommend improvements that will result in “best in class” utility service.
Among the issues to be addressed are:
1) Adequacy of Pepco’s preventative maintenance and tree trimming programs;
2) Pepco’s infrastructure and determining its contribution to the frequency of the outages;
3) Pepco’s contracting and operational procedures and practices for bringing in mutual aid and other contractual resources to bear in emergency situations;
4) Adequacy of Pepco’s communications systems for notifying and hearing from the public during major emergencies.
5) Adequacy of Pepco’s staffing to respond to normal maintenance activities, as well as to major emergencies.
6) The contribution of non-field causes to unreliable service (e.g., a rate structure that does not incentivize preventative maintenance; the absence of possible rate credits and other reparations to customers for damages caused, the lack of threat of payment of fines to the Public Service Commission); and
7) Adequacy of coordinating activities with the County during major emergency conditions.
The group is expected to submit a final report, with recommendations, within the next three to six months.
Leggett said he was “enormously pleased at how many residents were willing to roll up their sleeves and offer their perspectives and time to help assure reliable electricity for our County.”
The Pepco Work Group will be chaired by Norman R. Augustine, retired CEO of Lockheed Martin and Montgomery County resident, whose numerous leadership positions include having served as Under Secretary of the Army, Chairman and Principal Officer of the American Red Cross and President of the Boy Scouts of America. He also received the National Medal of Technology from the President of the United States and is a five-time recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal, the Department of Defense’s highest civilian decoration. Augustine has been cited for his “ability to cut through complex issues quickly” and to be able to “bring diverse groups of people together to focus on getting results.”
“I’m especially pleased that we have someone of Norman Augustine’s caliber heading the group,” Leggett said. “Given his results-oriented background and the credentials of the group as a whole, I know their final report will present some viable options for solutions to the issue at hand.”
Members of the group are:
• Gerald Fitzpatrick, National Institute of Standards and Smart Grid expert who serves on the Federal Smart Grid Task Force.
• Michal Ilana Freedhoff, staff member on the House Energy and Commerce Commission;
• Keith Haller, communications expert;
• Scott Hempling, executive director of the National Regulatory Research Institute;
• Brian Lang, representing the development and property management industries;
• Carmen Larsen, co-chair, Latin American Advisory Group;
• Steve Richter, electric utility industry consultant;
• Debbie Robins of Century Distributors, Inc. representing large employers;
• Arthur Slesinger, representing County civic associations;
• Scott Ullery, Rockville City Manager representing County municipalities; and
• Jim Young of Marriott International representing the hospitality industry.
# # #