July 3, 2012
Dear Residents and Friends,
Many of you have contacted me or my office voicing your frustration with Pepco's reliability and response to the recent storm. Although it is the State that has regulatory authority over utilities like Pepco, I have been and will continue to be your advocate by fighting for improved reliability and relaying your concerns, outages, and/or downed wires to Pepco.
On behalf of our constituents, my colleagues and I have taken some significant steps to hold Pepco accountable to its ratepayers within the scope of our County's limited authority.
- The Council asked the Public Service Commission to investigate Pepco's reliability standards which found Pepco's reliability to be substandard due to years of infrastructure neglect. Pepco was fined as a result.
- The Council passed county legislation that created a mechanism for the county to testify on your behalf before the Maryland Public Service Commission.
- I provided the first draft of the state legislation that required the Commission to establish "reliability standards" for Pepco.
- As a county, we have already testified in strong opposition to Pepco's proposed rate increase.
And clearly our work isn't done. We will continue to press our state leaders - the Governor, the legislature, and our state regulators to hold Pepco accountable. Our county deserves top performing utilities, not third world performance, and we will not rest until we get it. A week without power - or more - is simply unacceptable.
It is clear that as a result of years of neglect, Pepco's system has deteriorated. That is why it has been ranked in the bottom quartile nationally in terms of reliability. That is why they were fined by the Maryland Public Service Commission, the regulators who have 100% control and responsibility over Pepco. When a strong storm like our region experienced last week meets a weak utility system, the results are disastrous. No one debates that a strong storm will cause outages. However, the extent of the outages and the duration of the outages are a result of the weakness of Pepco's system. That is just one factor that makes this so hard to tolerate.
In a conference call with Pepco on Sunday, Pepco's President was asked whether Pepco would have service restored in a time frame comparable to other utilities hit by the storm. He said this wasn't "a race." Well, I beg to differ. It is a race. A race to restore power as quickly as humanly possible, and it better be in a time frame comparable to other utilities that were also hit by this storm. That is how we measure Pepco - in reference to what other utilities do - and by that measure, Pepco has fallen far short for years and years and years. The Public Service Commission will be reviewing Pepco's performance during the storm and I look forward to their report.
I know that many of you are providing assistance to neighbors and friends who lost power. Thank you for opening your homes to help others in need. I also want to recognize that the County's storm response staff (tree crews, police, fire and rescue services, etc.) has been working around the clock on your behalf.
Please don't hesitate to contact my office, if you need assistance during this or future storm events, or if you have an ongoing issue that has not been resolved. My staff and I will do our best to assist you.