WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Montgomery County Faces Public Utility Company Debate

Play associated audio
A fallen tree and power lines after a severe storm hit the D.C. area last June.
Rebecca Cooper
A fallen tree and power lines after a severe storm hit the D.C. area last June.

After a weekend full of outages for thousands of Pepco customers, Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner will meet this week with two groups that want to replace the utility with a publicly owned company.

Berliner will tell both groups things they probably don't want to hear, including that a public utility for Montgomery County is highly unlikely.

Berliner supports the idea, he says, because he does not believe Pepco will be able to improve its system to a level acceptable for county residents. But the county would need to get the General Assembly's approval before it could start its own utility and ditch Pepco.

"We can not do that without the state legislature blessing it," he says. "And I've been told by people who are very familiar with the workings that don't count on the state legislature giving Montgomery County that authority."

Pepco seems very confident it will not happen, Berliner adds. "Pepco officials have looked me straight in the eye and have said 'Roger, public power will never happen,'" he says. "So they may be right, in which case, we have to improve this system every which way we can."

At the very least, he's asking the General Assembly to allow the public utility issue to go to referendum, allowing Montgomery County voters to decide whether they want to keep Pepco or replace it with a public utility.

Berliner adds Pepco executives have told him they are confident that Montgomery County will never be allowed to start its own utility. Public utilities are not new to Maryland, as the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, or SMECO, serves four counties in the state.

NPR

On Television, More Transgender Characters Come Into Focus

Now that it's more common to see gay characters on TV, is the medium turning to transgender people for fresh stories? NPR's Neda Ulaby looks at TV's crop of transgender and "gender fluid" characters.
NPR

Slowly And Sweetly, Vietnam's Chocolate Industry Grows

French colonists planted cacao in Vietnam in the 1800s, but the crop was outpaced by coffee and cashews. Now French expats are helping the country become a respected producer of high-end chocolate.
NPR

Pennsylvania Congresswoman Goes All In For Obamacare

Does Rep. Allyson Schwartz's pro-Affordable Care Act television ad signal a new thinking among Democrats running in statewide races?
NPR

Brazil Becomes One Of The First To Adopt Internet 'Bill Of Rights'

President Dilma Rouseff signed the bill into law to kick off an international conference about the governance of the Internet.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.