Share

Pepco to ask for another rate increase amid continuing anger over its performance

|
Photo - Della Stoloworth holds at sign that says "Numbers dont lie, Pepco does" at a meeting on the performance of Pepco's service following the storms that hit the Washington area on June 30th. Rockville Council office building. (Graeme Jennings/Examiner)
Della Stoloworth holds at sign that says "Numbers dont lie, Pepco does" at a meeting on the performance of Pepco's service following the storms that hit the Washington area on June 30th. Rockville Council office building. (Graeme Jennings/Examiner)
Local,Maryland,Rachel Baye

Pepco plans to file for another rate increase this fall, parent company CEO Joseph Rigby said Tuesday, just hours before Montgomery County residents lined up to lambast the utility for its performance in restoring power after the June 29 derecho.

"We expect to file our next round of rate cases in Maryland in the fourth quarter of this year," Rigby told shareholders in a conference call. "A fair and reasonable outcome in the next round of cases will be crucial to continue the pace of investment in Maryland."

Rigby's comments followed the news that Pepco Holdings' net income dropped 34 percent in the second quarter of 2012, compared with the same time last year, and 18 percent during the first half of 2012, compared with the first half of 2011.

Less than eight hours later, Montgomery residents packed the County Council's hearing room to complain vehemently to the Maryland Public Service Commission about the firm's laggardly restoration of power, during the first public hearing about Pepco's post-storm performance.

"Pepco is a joke," said Judy Koenick, who lives in Chevy Chase. "It has no clue as to what it needs to do to be prepared for an outage."

Some residents, like Town of Somerset Councilwoman Cathy Pickar, lamented Pepco's practice of prioritizing shareholders over customers.

"The pomp, the arrogance, the self-aggrandizement -- particularly through their recent ads -- is a very expensive rhetoric," she said. "It's a very insulting rhetoric, and I also found it quite deceptive."

Residents are still seething over the most recent rate hike, which took effect at the end of July. Though utility regulators rejected the bulk of Pepco's $68 million rate increase, they were required by law to allow Pepco to recover $18 million through a rate increase that will amount to an average $2.02 more a month for Maryland residents.

But $18 million was $18 million too much, said Bethesda resident Ed Levien, who had no power for more than six days after the derecho.

The derecho was not Pepco's first extended outage, former Rockville Mayor Susan Hoffmann reminded the PSC, pointing to Pepco's infamous "blue-sky outages."

Potomac resident C. Ellis grew up in England after World War II and never there had the kind of power outages he has in Montgomery County.

"We had bomb craters, but we had power," he said. "My wife grew up in the former Soviet Union. They had communism, but they had power."

rbaye@washingtonexaminer.com

View article comments Leave a comment