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Montgomery County Exec Derides Pepco After Storm

O'Malley takes more diplomatic approach to utility company

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From right to left: Montgomery County fire chief Richard Bowers, County Executive Isiah Leggett, and Gov. Martin O'Malley discuss the latest on storm restoration efforts at the county emergency operations center in Gaithersburg, Md.
Matt Bush
From right to left: Montgomery County fire chief Richard Bowers, County Executive Isiah Leggett, and Gov. Martin O'Malley discuss the latest on storm restoration efforts at the county emergency operations center in Gaithersburg, Md.

Friday night's severe storm left over 1 million people without power Saturday and Sunday, forcing businesses in the area to close and millions of residents to suffer in the heat.

Pepco officials say they expect to restore service to 90 percent of its customers by this Friday at 11 p.m., but Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett says the timeframe is not acceptable.

"We're talking about July 6 ... today is just July 1," says Leggett. "We've already had one complete day of this. Having our citizens having to go through seven days without utilities is not in my opinion the kind of level of services that we should expect."

County leaders and Pepco have been at odds the past two years because of the utilities response to thunderstorms in 2010 that left some without power for a week. Shortly after that, PEPCO admitted it ranked among the worst utilities in the country when it came the frequency and length of power outages and vowed to improve.

Leggett says he understands that outside crews could not come in until Monday because of how far they had to travel to get the region, but he insists Pepco must work more quickly than it has thus far. 

"When we're dealing with temperatures at the level of nearly 100 degrees and the humidity that we face," says Leggett. "That is not sufficient for me."

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) tried to be more diplomatic when looking at Friday's restoration time line.

"I'm very hopeful and optimistic that we will be able to beat those expectations. And nobody will have their boot further up PEPCO's backside than I will to make sure that we get there."

O'Malley said he was also encouraged by the fact PEPCO since 2010 has increased the number of workers its uses to respond to storms. 

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