Pepco Says $521M Upgrade Already Addressed History Of Outage Problems Identified By Maryland Commission

11:04 PM, Jul 3, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA9) - Pepco officials say being labeled the "most hated" company in America, and falling at the bottom of customer satisfaction surveys, do not reflect current efforts to improve customer service and service restorations.

"There's a perception that we are unreliable and I think that's a false perception," Clay Anderson, Pepco spokesman.
"We are doing better."

Although Pepco says it has restored 77 percent of its 443,000 customers left without power by Friday's storm, politicians and consumers continue to criticize the utility for slow response times.

Last year, listed Pepco at the bottom of the 19 most hated companies in America.

Comcast, Time Warner, and Delta Airlines, also ranked low, but Pepco ranked number one for most hated.

Business Insider cited a survey showing Pepco had 70 percent more outages than other big city utilities.

"We realize that our customers expect better service, more reliable service," Anderson said. "I'm not going to say anything particular about that article." 

Three years of analyses from JD Power and Associates indicate Pepco customer satisfaction dropped year after year, finally falling in last place in 2011 among 19 East Coast utilities.

A report prepared in 2011 for the Maryland Public Service Commission identified ongoing restoration troubles during multiple outages.

The report, prepared by independent experts, recommended Pepco initiate several changes.

Anderson said the improvements were implemented as part of Pepco's $521 million investment in infrastructure in 2011.

"Those completions include doubling the amount of phone lines to 600 so people will cut that wait time and also adding technology as far as customer call centers in Florida and other areas," Anderson said. "They have been accomplished."

The state commission recommended improving preventative maintenance, like tree trimming, increasing reliability related initiatives, like reviewing outages to understand causes, improving restoration service time estimates, and improving customer communications during storms.

"These are all things that have been done," Anderson said. "We have trimmed over 3,000 miles of tree lines."

Pepco expects the vast majority of customers without power to have electrical service by late Friday.

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