Pepco’s performance over the last year has been inexcusable. Not only have we suffered through outages after routine storms, but Pepco’s abysmal customer service makes it difficult to reach a live person or to receive accurate information on restoration times. Incredibly, the Maryland Public Service Commission had no reliability standards against which to measure Pepco or any other utility. So I worked closely with Councilmember Roger Berliner and Montgomery Delegation Chair Brian Feldman to draft HB 391, the Maryland Electricity Service Quality and Reliability Act, which requires the PSC to develop reliability standards for Pepco and to impose financial penalties when they are not met. Together, we successfully lobbied the O’Malley Administration to support the bill, which persuaded the PSC to back the bill as well. With only an hour to go on the last day of the session, we managed to work out the final details to allow the bill to pass the House and the Senate. For more information on the Assembly’s efforts to regulate Pepco, read about it here.
A related issue: The Washington Post exposed the fact that a little-known feature called decoupling allows Pepco is allowed to charge customers higher rates if they use less electricity. The unintended consequence of decoupling is to remove Pepco’s incentive to restore power quickly; they don’t lose as much money as we would think during outages because they get to charge higher rates after an outage. I introduced HB 1278 to ban this practice from incompetent utilities such as Pepco. While the bill didn’t pass, the Senate added and the House adopted a requirement to HB 391 to require the PSC to study whether they should eliminate decoupling.