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AARP Proposes Higher Standards for Reliability

Following long power outages and customer complaints about Pepco’s call responses during the major winter storms of 2010, a set of standards was developed by AARP and submitted to the District of Columbia Public Service Commission. Excerpts from the standards appear below.
I. Specific and enforceable reliability standards and reporting requirements for routine maintenance. These standards should reflect the industry-approved definitions of measurements of length and frequency of customer outages. Once established, the utility should be required to report the annual results and the Commission should enforce these standards by assessing appropriate penalties.
II. Standards to ensure customers calls are answered promptly and accurately. Reliability of service means more than just repairing outages or conducting the business of a utility to prevent outages from occurring. It also means that the utility’s customer call center performs so that customers can call the utility and be assured that a live customer service representative will answer their call promptly.
III. Establish penalties for noncompliance. The Commission should ensure that utilities conform to the annual standards by establishing predetermined penalties that result in compensation to all customers for the failure to meet the standards. Penalties should not be included in

IV. Specific standards for major storms and widespread outages. Utilities should be required to develop and submit an Emergency Response Plan that governs major outages and restoration efforts. Elements of the emergency response plan should include a plan to communicate the outage information before and during the restoration process accurately and frequently to its customers
V. Reporting and review of the response to major storms. After a major storm or the implementation of a utility’s emergency response plan, a utility should submit a report on the major outage and describe how the emergency response plan was implemented. Where appropriate, describe how the lessons learned from the event have been reflected in amendments to the plan.