Md Delegate Blasts Pepco On Storm Report

9:55 PM, Jul 31, 2012   |    comments
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SILVER SPRING, Md (WUSA) -- A Maryland State Delegate is promising tougher rules and stiffer penalties for Pepco.

The utility has just filed a report bragging about its response to this month's big Derecho storm. Sixty-nine pages from Pepco arguing that its response to the storm was fast and effective.
The Public Service Commission is going to look it over and hold hearings.

But at least one state delegate says the verdict is already clear. "It's comical that Pepco claims they couldn't have been ready for the storm," says Del. Tom Hucker (D-Montgomery). "They sat in front of my committee 18 months ago saying they were ready for anything. And they ran tv ads saying they'd be ready for anything. Obviously they weren't."

Hucker says the Pepco report to the PSC is chock full of pretty pictures and excuses -- but sorely lacking in solutions and accountability. "Everyone knows we have a huge problem. We have one of the least reliable utilities in the country, but Pepco's management seems to still be deeply in denial."

Pepco claims forecasters had the storm stalling over the Appalachians. But when it defied the meteorologists and knocked out power to nearly half a million Pepco customers that Friday night, the utility says it responded quickly, restoring electricity to 99 percent of its customers by the next Friday and bringing the last home back on line by Sunday.

Pepco says it ultimately brought on nearly 2-thousand field crews.

State regulators have already fined Pepco one million dollars for past shoddy maintenance. Hucker says he'll push even tougher utility oversight in the next session of the General Assembly. "They're going to be paying higher fines and greater penalties if this goes on any longer." "One million dollars, as far as you're concerned, is not enough?" I asked him." "That's peanuts. Pepco needs fines that are significant enough to change its behavior."

Hucker says you don't have to be Topper Shutt to know there will be another big storm. He says despite investing millions to trim trees and harden its infrastructure, Pepco is still not ready for the next one.

Written and Reported by Bruce Leshan
9News Now & wusa9.com
Twitter: @BruceLeshan

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