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Posted at 7:03 PM ET, 08/26/2010

Helping Pepco keep the lights on

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Thomas Altvater,
Germantown

It’s easy to blame Pepco for the recent power outages even when the direct cause is weather-related [“Holding Pepco accountable,” editorial, Aug. 24].

Since we can’t control the direct cause — storms — let’s address the contributing causes and other factors that resulted in such a magnitude of customers without power. Remember, Pepco is (still) a highly regulated provider of power that is in business to make a profit. It behooves it to maintain this service the best it can and keep its shareholders happy. The following are just some of the forces that prevent Pepco from delivering power to all of its users:

· Local and state rules that prevent the utility from making a reasonable profit and customer NIMBY issues about power-line rights-of-way and tree-trimming efforts.

· Abusive energy surcharges (such as in Montgomery County) that line the pockets of local governments and result in customers not willing to pay for their delivered power.

· Inability of the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) to approve rules and rates for the long-term health of Pepco. This applies to the more frequent implementation of tree-trimming cycles and other efficiency improvements.

The PSC and Pepco need to partner to improve services to include better and more frequent tree-trimming programs, implementation of an intelligent power control system that includes automated metering, burying power lines where practical, and the establishment of citizen advisory committees that review the performance not only of Pepco but also of the PSC.


By washingtonpost.com editors  | August 26, 2010; 7:03 PM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Maryland, Montgomery County, Takoma, energy, environment  
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