The D.C. Council is considering enforcing tighter controls on utilities like Pepco in order to try to reduce the number and length of power outages after storms in the area.
The D.C. Council recently raised the fine Pepco and other power companies can face to $100,000 for each "unreliable incident." That's a ten-fold increase from the previous fine.
Now, the council is considering a measure to mandate enforceable performance standards for Pepco through the Public Service Commission, the group that regulates utility companies in D.C.
"We certainly understand the fact that power goes out. It happens everywhere. You can't control the weather and we don't expect Pepco to build a bubble over the city," says Rayna Smith, legislative counselor for the council's Committee on Public Services. "But at the same time, the fact it goes out so frequently and that when it's out, its out for so long," she adds.
The bill would require the Public Service Commission to measure Pepco's reliability against other power companies, and set benchmarks. If the company didn't meet those standards, the commission would have the authority to reduce Pepco's earnings by forcing it to give rebates to customers.
A hearing on the measure is scheduled for Thursday at 1 p.m.