Six days following Friday's violent storms, thousands remain without power in Maryland. But the head of the Maryland Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities in the state, isn't yet ready to judge the response by Pepco and BG&E to last week's storm.
While he shares the frustration of residents still without power during triple-digit heat, PSC chairman Douglas Nazarian said during a press conference Thursday, the investigation into how long utilities take to restore power doesn't start until all customers in the state have service again. That goal is still at least a few days off. Fines can be issued against utilities, but Nazarian says that is not the priority right now.
"At this point, our sole focus is on ensuring the power gets restored," says Nazarian. "Not grading or evaluating anyone's performance at this point."
The commission fined Pepco $1 million last year for failing to upgrade its infrastructure, which lead to multiple week-long power outages following thunderstorms in 2010.
Next week, the commission will rule on a proposed rate hike for Pepco, but Nazarian would not comment on whether the utility's recent performance would affect the decision.
For those who still don't have power, Nazarian has this advice: "They need to keep in contact with their utility company. It doesn't help to call every two minutes, but you should call them every day. As we get deeper into this restoration, as the companies assign individual crews to individual locations, customers will get a individualized restoration time."
Nazarian says the commission welcomes input from residents affected by the outages. They can be contacted at (410) 767-8028 or on their website at PSC.State.MD.us.