The Washington Examiner reported that more than 1,500 homes and businesses – plus several D.C. government buildings and a few schools – endured a day-long power outage while the temperature sizzled at 100 degrees. Some inoperable underground cables, which caused the outage, even shut down the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates electricity.
Pepco’s lack of reliability is no secret to those who depend on electricity. The Washington Post reported that “the average Pepco customer experienced 70 percent more outages than customers of other big-city utilities. And outages lasted more than twice as long.”
After the major storms in January, AARP developed a set of recommendations to improve Pepco’s reliability. Since then, the Maryland General Assembly has established reliability standards, accountability, and penalties and the DC Public Service Commission has issued stronger rules for service reliability. Good start, but AARP has stronger recommendations for both jurisdictions.
For example, Pepco should be penalized for both the frequency and duration of power outages in DC. And fines collected should go directly to customers who suffered outages instead of the Maryland or DC General Treasury.
Now Pepco wants ratepayers in DC to pay $42 million more a year to fix its problems, increasing residential bills by an average of $5 per month. A rate increase proposal is expected in Maryland soon. As state regulators consider these proposals, consumers will resist being penalized with a rate increase to fix Pepco’s reliability problems, considering Pepco has paid no penalty for failing to keep the lights on.
Tell the Public Service Commission to reject Pepco’s proposal to increase your electric bill. Find out how by visiting the AARP DC blog. More information is also available vie the AARP DC presence at Facebook or Twitter.