The union representing Pepco workers has reportedly reached a contract agreement with the electric utility, which could avert a possible strike. Union members must still okay the pact, which was reached after lengthy negotiations. Meanwhile, Pepco is fixing bills for some Montgomery County customers after they were overcharged when the utility switched their meters recently.
The overcharges occurred after Pepco replaced older meters with new so-called "smart meters" in certain areas of the county, though not all of the new machines in these cases were Smart meters. Pepco isn't blaming the meters for the problems, but rather billing estimates used to tabulate rates while the new meters were being installed.
Smart meters are an example of an upgrade that in the future could mean higher bills for customers under a plan released last week by Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.
A task force issued a report to the governor recommending utilities be allowed to impose surcharges on ratepayers bills every time an infrastructure or maintenance upgrade is made. Montgomery County Council president Roger Berliner says he supports much of what was recommended in the report, except for the surcharges.
"I think the governor is in the right church, but the wrong pew with respect to this issue," Berliner says. "I think what you really want to focus on are results. You don't want to focus on investments, because you don't know whether those investments are going to bring about the results you want."
The state public service commission will make the final decision on whether the report's recommendations are adopted.