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Frustration With Pepco Continues In Montgomery County

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A utility pole that was knocked over by a severe thunderstorm that hit the D.C. area on June 29, 2012.
Armando Trull
A utility pole that was knocked over by a severe thunderstorm that hit the D.C. area on June 29, 2012.

Roger Berliner, president of the Montgomery County Council, is blasting Pepco again, saying the utility's improvements have been anything but an improvement.

Among his laundry list of complaints, Berliner faulted Pepco's computer system that tracked the restoration of power following the recent storm. He says many were told their power was restored when it wasn't, and vice versa. Berliner believes that has furthered eroded what little confidence county residents have left in Pepco.

"In this era, when all of us have smart phones, how can we have such a dumb system," says Berliner.

Berliner adds the lengthy timeframe in restoring power is re-igniting a debate that started two years ago about whether the county should take away Pepco's franchise and create its own public utility.

The discussion died down once Pepco announced its five-year plan to improve its service reliability. However, Berliner says the response to last month's storm showed the plan hasn't yet produced results, meaning the possibility of a county-run utility must be looked at.

The general assembly would have to give the county the authority to do that, and Berliner says he's heard some lawmakers are crafting a bill that would. He also says Gov. Martin O'Malley told him personally that all options should be on the table for the county.

"I can't tell you how many people are so offended by Pepco's self-congratulatory tone of its press releases when people are without power in 105-degree heat," says Berliner.

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