The question resurfaces: Should Montgomery County purchase Pepco's infrastructure and turn to public power options?
The issue re-emerged this summer as hundreds of thousands of area residents endured a record heat wave without power following the June 29 derecho storm.
Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner at the time revisited the idea of an option of a public power system, and on Thursday formally asked the county attorney, Marc Hansen, to review the idea. Hansen last year said the county would need special legislative permission.
Another storm this month left 65,000 without power in the Washington area, and county lawmakers have been fielding complaints from business owners of thousands of dollars in lost business, according to a Washington Examiner report.
“The county should have the right to determine for itself, subject to a referendum, whether public power is both economically practical and a better option for meeting the needs of Montgomery County businesses and residents,” Berliner said in a release on Thursday.
Last September Hansen said in a memo that the county would need the approval of the Maryland General Assembly in order to acquire Pepco’s infrastructure and an okay from the Maryland Public Service Commission before any new public power company could begin delivering service. Pepco would need to be paid “just compensation” at fair market value for its infrastructure.
“Public power doesn’t serve shareholders—it is solely responsible to its customers,” Berliner said in July following the 10-day power outage. “I think it is time for our state legislators to give Montgomery County the authority we need to explore public power through enabling legislation.”
A local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in July said it wouldn’t support a publicly owned power option and that the idea wasn’t feasible.
What do you think? Is Berliner right in continuing to pursue the public power option?