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Montgomery County Residents Target Pepco, PSC, At Hearing

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A Pepco truck makes its rounds in Northwest D.C. to restore power in early July. Power outages resulting from the June 29 derecho storm lasted as long as a week. 
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A Pepco truck makes its rounds in Northwest D.C. to restore power in early July. Power outages resulting from the June 29 derecho storm lasted as long as a week. 

It's been more than a month since the derecho storm tore through the D.C. area, leaving hundreds of thousands of Pepco customers without power, some for as long as week. Anger over those lengthy outages hasn't subsided, if a hearing in Rockville last night is any indicator — and electric utility Pepco wasn't the only target.

The hearing was held by the Maryland Public Service Commission, which is starting its investigation into the response to the storm by the state's utilities. Last night focused on Pepco, and plenty of Montgomery County residents turned out.

The terms "reactive, not proactive," "outrage," "no clue" and "arrogance" were common refrains from residents — one of whom also read a limerick he crafted for the occasion. 

Many speakers also directed their ire at the PSC itself as the body that is supposed to regulate the utility. Former Rockville mayor Susan Hoffman, for example, told commission members she isn't sure any more whether the PSC can regulate effectively.

"While each of you has a fine resume, some of you come from the world of public utilities," she said. "Perhaps you are too close to the issue, know too much, and may have unwittingly become apologists for the very utilities you regulate."

The commission did approve a rate hike requested by Pepco last month, though the hike was far below what the utility asked for. 

The commission will hold a second hearing on Pepco's response tonight in Prince George's County, as well as four hearings next week in areas served by BG&E. The utilities will speak before the commission next month.

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