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Pepco Restores Majority Of Outages, But Pace Expected To Slow

Lawmakers will hold hearing on utility's response July 19

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Electric utility Pepco has been working for nearly a week to restore power to everyone that lost electricity after the June 29 "derecho" storm.
Elliott Francis
Electric utility Pepco has been working for nearly a week to restore power to everyone that lost electricity after the June 29 "derecho" storm.

Pepco is touting its performance in restoring power in response to Friday's storm. It reached 90 percent restoration two days ahead of schedule. But even that early good news won't keep the utility from being put under the microscope two weeks from today in Montgomery County.

The Montgomery County Council will hold a hearing July 19 looking at PEPCO's response to the power outages that resulted from the violent storms that affected the area June 29. Several people have been asked to testify, including Josephy Rigby, the chairman of Pepco's board of directors.  

Despite the progress the company has made, its restoration rate is expected to slow down now that the crews have tackled the outages affecting the largest volumes of customers. In order to service the thousands who are still without power, crews have to work home-by-home or neighborhood-by-neighborhood on a 'retail level.' 

Up until now, the utility company has been able to restore hundreds and sometimes thousands of customers at a time by fixing a utility pole or removing a tree, by operating on what is known as a 'wholesale level.'

Customers who are still without power should call Pepco to ensure that their homes are on the utility crew's schedule for restoration.

The Montgomery County Council is not the only legsilative body the utility will have to face in the coming weeks; the D.C. council has scheduled a roundtable with the company for June 13, and D.C. Council member Mary Cheh wants to launch a formal probe into Pepco.

Montgomery County Council members have asked Rigby him to testify at several hearings during the past two years, but he has never attended them. The chairman of the Maryland Public Service Commission will testify, and County Executive Isiah Leggett — who railed against the utility in the wake of this most recent storm — and state lawmakers have also been asked to speak. 

Some Montgomery County Council members have been the most critical of PEPCO the past two years, with the latest round of chatter involving the utility's tree-trimming program which has angered some county residents. A bill before the council would give county authorities more say on tree-trimming.

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