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Pepco Depletes Emergency Account

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By Matt Laslo

Pepco has depleted its emergency response fund for the year and is now relying on a rate increase to pay for service improvements.

Pepco is self-insured, which means that it puts away money in good years so it will be there for the bad ones. And this year was a really bad one.

"We had a devastating storm in February, followed up by the July storm followed up by the August 5th and August 12th. We hope this isn't a trend," says Pepco's president, Thomas Graham.

Damage from all those storms has cost the utility upwards of $20 million. And that doesn't include the quarter billion dollars the company has promised to spend over the next five years to try to prevent a recurrence of this year's many power outages.

Those repeated outages led to an outcry from the public and regulators. Still, Pepco's stock has been steadily rebounding after dropping precipitously about 18 months ago. At just above $18 a share, it's now the highest it's been for the year. Pepco's earnings were up in the second quarter, but could be hurt by the millions it spent in response to this summer's storms.

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