On Monday, the last day of Maryland’s General Assembly, state legislators passed a bill that will create reliability standards for Maryland utilities after mounting frustration with Pepco’s performance in the county.
Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner (D-Dist. 1) backed the Maryland Electricity Service Quality and Reliability Act, hoping it would hold Pepco accountable for its quality of service, he said in a news release.
“Before last night, there was no requirement that Pepco meet reliability standards or face financial penalties if they fail to do so,” Berliner said in the release. “Now, thanks to the good work of our legislature in partnership with the Governor, we have a law that requires the Maryland Public Service Commission to adopt such standards.”
The legislation, which was sponsored by Del. Brian Feldman (D-Dist. 15) of Potomac, will allow the Maryland Public Service Commission to fine utility companies for poor performance and direct payments back to affected ratepayers.
The Public Service Commission has until July 1, 2012 to to determine the reliability standards. The standards would address concerns such as service interruption, downed wire repair and service quality.
Also, the legislation will require utility companies to report if they met the standards. If companies fall short of the commission’s standards, they could face fines for noncompliance and that money would then go back to the ratepayers.
“Despite promises from Pepco over the past year, thousands of Montgomery County residents, businesses and schools continue to be adversely affected by repeated power outages,” Feldman said on his website. “It became apparent to me that several gaps exist in the current Maryland regulatory system regarding electricity service delivery in our state.”