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Montgomery County Probes Pepco On Storm Response

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A Pepco truck works on repairs after the June 29 storm that knocked out power to millions throughout the mid-Atlantic region.
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A Pepco truck works on repairs after the June 29 storm that knocked out power to millions throughout the mid-Atlantic region.

Pepco is defending its response to the June 29 storm that left 420,000 of its customers in Maryland without power for several days. Nearly three weeks after the so-called "derecho" storm ripped through the mid-Atlantic region, Montgomery County Council members are still airing their frustration with Pepco over the utility company's response to the storms.

"The problem is Pepco's set of values, and it values its shareholders, and its executives, and not its customers," said Council member Hans Riemer during a council meeting July 19.

Riemer and other council members wanted to know what took so long in turning the power back on to the 100,000 Montgomery County customers after the storm — and the answer he received was simple.

"No utility that I'm aware of can recover that quickly from a catastrophic event of that magnitude," said Pepco Region President Thomas Graham.

"Did Pepco use maximum effort to restore services as quickly and safely as possible? Yes we did," Graham added.

Also under fire is the Maryland Public Service Commission, which regulates Pepco. A full report on Pepco's performance following the derecho is due to the PSC July 30.

"What happens next depends on what we find," PSC Chairman Doug Nazarian told the county council Thursday. "I don't know as I sit here what the next steps and what the end game are, and we will know that once we have the record." 

Nazarian said he will compare Pepco's response time to other companies' in the area to see where Pepco can improve.

Unrelated to the storm response, the PSC is expected to decide today whether or not to give Pepco a 4 percent rate increase, which would add more than $5 per month to the average bill. 

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