Montgomery Council Slams Pepco Performance

Pepco says there have been fewer outages and shorter recovery times.

The lack of reliable electric power has become the No.1 quality-of-life issue in the county and the June 29 storm and resulting outages are proof that Pepco hasn’t been doing its job, according to Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner (D-Dist. 1) in a Montgomery County Council debriefing on Pepco’s response to the storm.

But the utility is making strides with fewer outages and shorter recovery times since 2010, said Pepco Region President Thomas Graham. Pepco has been implementing a five-year reliability plan, which includes managing trees near wires, upgrading feeders and burying some power lines.

The June 29 storm was unpredicted and no utility company with overhead wires could have recovered quickly, Graham said. There were more than 200 wires down, 242 poles replaced and 214 transformers replaced, according to Pepco statistics.

Still, both state and county legislators were not convinced.

“You’ve been happy to send checks to shareholders and let the infrastructure rot,” Councilman Mark Elrich (D-At Large) said of Pepco.

A large fine should be imposed on Pepco and the money should be used to train retired utility workers to work on Pepco’s infrastructure and equipment, State Sen. Brian Frosh (D-Dist. 18) said.

"We need people right here that can do this work so we don’t have to wait for them to be brought in," Frosh said.

Councilman Hans Reimer (D-At Large) took issue with Pepco’s performance in comparison to other utility companies.

“There are trees and bad weather in many jurisdictions and those people have power,” Reimer said. “The problem is Pepco’s set of values. It values its shareholders and its executives."

Reimer noted that Pepco CEO Joseph Rigby was not at the meeting to face the criticism.

Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-Dist. 8) was not at the meeting, but issued a report that also studied how Pepco performed comparatively.

Although Dominion had more than double the number of outages as Pepco at the start of the restoration effort on the evening of June 29, the number of Pepco and Dominion customers without power was almost equal by July 2, according to the report.

Van Hollen also called for the Maryland Public Service Commission to reject Pepco’s pending request for a 4 percent rate increase.

The next step is hearing from residents. There will be eight public hearings across the state, including one in Montgomery County on Aug. 7.


RVN6768 July 20, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Sounds like you have an issue with the landlord not PEPCO. Why isn't the generator functioning properly? If you don't like the way the trees are pruned, get your own contractor. Spend your $$$$. Why don't your and your cohorts take the elerly into your homes...
Joe Thomas July 20, 2012 at 06:20 PM
A frequent cause of power outages when storms are not involved are cars striking poles. I was in MVA last week and all of the lights went out. An alert employee went outside and saw that a car and cut a power pole in half on Clopper Rd. It affected a large area on the west side of Gaithersburg. This happens more than you realize.
Esther D July 20, 2012 at 07:07 PM
This is with Pepco. The company that controls the electricity. If I find issues with the landlord or association I will surely make it know to them. Again, Pepco is what I have stated in my comment, P-E-P-C-O. As far as the generator functioning properly... who is to say it was not? Thats irrelivent. They had no power while everyone else around them did. Um... I do have a contractor for the trees, by no choice of mine... It is chosen for me[by Pepco]. So that is "spend your $$$$." Me and my cohorts? Obviously, this will be my final and only comment towards you.
Nearby July 21, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Regarding Hans Riemer's statement that “There are trees and bad weather in many jurisdictions and those people have power"--yes, but in how many of those jurisdictions do the power companies have to deal with trees and limbs falling and pulling down the power lines and poles. Right before this storm there was a brouhaha on local listservs offering information as to how to fight PEPCO when they come to trim limbs in your neighborhood. Also, I've yet to see anyone that complains about PEPCO offer a data-supported analysis of their complaints. And if we have such a large problem, where have the regulators and watchdogs like the PSC been all these years? Where are their recommendations, findings, fines, etc.?
Nearby July 21, 2012 at 09:37 PM
Given your statement that "There are trees that a more capable of handling storms," one would think that you are suggesting that PEPCO lop down all the trees along their lines and replace them with "more capable" trees, even after you gripe about the "tree hackers." We need a more coherent argument here.


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