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Bill Aims To Force Pepco To Perform

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In Maryland, Gov. Martin O'Malley is expected to introduce a bill this week or next that will force utility companies to meet certain performance standards or face fines.

Montgomery County Council Member Roger Berliner has received hundreds of e-mails about Pepco since last week's storm. They range from anger over an inability to reach anyone at the utility's customer service center, to tales of having to fork out upwards of $20,000 for a generator.

The stories are new, but familiar, as Berliner says they sound much like the ones he heard last July -- and last February.

"It's not a good story, and it's not a story that my constituents and our public should listen to any longer. We need a different ending to this story. We need good results, and not poor performance," he says.

While O'Malley and Montgomery County Delegate Brian Feldman will introduce the bill in Annapolis, it is Berliner who wrote it. The bill would force Pepco and other utilities to reach performance standards. If they're not met, the companies would be fined.

"It reduces their rate of return, that they are otherwise authorized to earn. And returns those dollars to our consumers in the form of rebates if they don't measure up," Berliner says.

Of Monday night's storm, and the possible outages that could follow, Berliner says, "Let's just hope it's not a bad storm. That's the only thing I can say."

Pepco does have a plan to increase its service reliability. The necessary improvements under that plan would not be completed until 2016.

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