It has been about eight years now since the crisis at Pepco came to light, and as far as Montgomery County residents are concerned, nothing has changed.
The 2012 "derecho" storm is the latest disaster, but the problem has been growing for years. In 2011, there were hundreds of thousands of power outages after an ice storm. There were severe outages from storms in 2010, and 2008, and after Hurricane Isabel in 2003.
In Maryland, utility companies are granted a monopoly in exchange for submitting to direct supervision by one agency, the “PSC” (Public Service Commission). The PSC is an independent agency, but the Governor appoints its members and has the power to replace them.
That's why I started a petition on SignOn.org to Gov. O'Malley and the Maryland legislature, which says:
"The state regulators at the PSC are failing. The chairman of the PSC, Douglas Nazarian, has admitted that they were slow to recognize problems at Pepco. But he is still in charge of the PSC and so are the rest of the slow responders. Why?"
"The PSC is an independent agency, but the Governor appoints its members and has the power to replace them."
As a county government, we have no direct power over Pepco. I can talk until I turn blue about what I think Pepco needs to do better, the fact is that only the PSC can change Pepco, and only the Governor can change the PSC.
Thank you for joining my call to bring accountability to Pepco and Maryland's utility companies. I welcome comments on my blog or my Facebook page.