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Most of Maryland Under Severe Thunderstorm Watch

Pepco Official: 'We Understand the Anger'

The utility's post-storm response report was 'accurate,' region vice president says.

 

Customers spoke. Pepco listened.

Following more than in Rockville, Jerry Pasternak, Pepco’s region vice president for Maryland affairs, stood in a nearly empty hearing room at the Montgomery County Council building and told reporters what he heard.

“I think everybody who was here tonight was very sincere and expressed their views on how they feel,” Pasternak said of the testimony about his company’s performance in the days after the  and extended power outage.

“And we heard that. We understand the anger. We understand the frustration. We’re working hard to overcome that. We’re working hard to restore their confidence in our ability to deliver safe and reliable electric service and we’re investing in the system in order to do that.”

In 2010, Pepco launched a $910 million, five-year investment plan that includes upgrades to power grid infrastructure, new technology such as , a vegetation management plan that includes increased tree trimming and the replacement of aging underground cables.

Tuesday’s hearing was the first of eight around the state to hear from the public about utilities’ performance following the storm.

A second hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Rennie Forum at in Upper Marlboro. Pepco officials are scheduled to appear before the PSC on Sept. 13 in Baltimore. All hearings will be streamed live on the PSC’s Web site.

In July, the  requested by Pepco. The increase will mean a $2.02 increase (1.69 percent) to the typical residential monthly bill.

Pepco plans to file another rate request in the fall, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Pasternak said it was “premature” to discuss how much of an increase Pepco would request. 

“Tonight’s not about rate increases,” Pasternak said. “Tonight’s about customers having their opportunity to talk directly to the commission and it’s an opportunity for us to hear directly from them what their concerns are.”

Asked by a television news reporter if the rate increase request is appropriate given the dissatisfaction with Pepco’s recent performance, Pasternak said: “I think what’s appropriate is for us to do what we need to do in order to deliver on what our commitment is to the customers.” 

Pasternak also defended that critics say offers a too-positive portrayal of the utility’s performance after the  storm that left 483,639 Pepco customers without power.

“I think our report was accurate,” he said. “I think our report reflected the commitment and the effort that we put in to restoring service after the storm.”

Customers’ are a concern, Pasternak said.

Pepco needs “to do what we’re doing” with its five-year plan, he said. “We are committed. We will see this through. We will see the improvements in the system. Where we’ve made the improvements we’ve seen pretty significant improvements in reducing the number of outages and the duration of outages. So we are on the right path and we will continue to work with our customers and improve our service.”

The utility performs a “self-assessment” to evaluate its performance after major storms, Pasternak said. “We will continue to improve where we can improve and our goal is to regain our customers’ confidence and to continue our work to provide the service that I believe everyone should have.”

James Griffin, the president of the Pepco employees’ union, to respond to major storms and relies too heavily on outside contractors who don’t know the system.

Pasternak disagreed.

“I think the important factor is that we had more personnel on our property working to restore [power after] this storm than we ever had before, given the combination of full-time Pepco personnel and contractors who are on site doing work every day,” Pasternak said.

Many of the contractors “are former Pepco employees who know the system really well, who have worked on the system,” he said. “I would say that we had people who knew the system and we had teams out there that knew the system and they were able to do their work.”

 

What do you think of Pepco's "take away" from Tuesday's hearing? Tell us in the comments.


Timothy August 08, 2012 at 08:01 PM
I have a very hard time getting past Mr. Pasternak's previou job, when he spent 12 years as part of County Executive Doug Duncan's inner circle. He's a political operative, a lobbyist, and an influence-wielder who has absolutely no background in utilities. He was hired for his contacts and to supervise the massive PEPCO PR campaign that so many of last night's speakers criticized as a waste of money.
macadoodle August 08, 2012 at 09:38 PM
They should take the PR money and invest in more rank-and-file workers for rapid response teams instead of hiring contractors from here & faraway states that don't know the local grid. The number of front-line workers has been steadily decreasing as the management bureaucracy has grown by leaps and bounds. Same thing in the federal government. PEPCO failed. End of story. Will We the People prevail? The system in MD is so corrupt, I don't realistically see any solutions on the immediate horizon. First of all, there should be a top-to-bottom review of positions in PEPCO. Weed out through early retirement the upper echelons and put the funds where they could best improve the situation for the people who are PEPCO subscribers, the ones who have to pay for their fiascos.
Joe Thomas August 09, 2012 at 03:17 AM
Yeah great idea. Hire rapid response men who would on 360 days of the year sit around with nothing to do. You would be the first one to whine when the salaries of these "rapid" guys was revealed.
Steven Schattman August 09, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Regrettably, I think the only thing Pepco really hears is complaints from their shareholders that their dividends are too small. I agree with the proposal from the two Md. state Senators who want to fine them a significant amount of money totaling in the tens of millions of dollars. Perhaps that will truthfully get their attention and it would reimburse the state for costs incurred by Pepco's continuing inadequate performance.
sarah issa August 10, 2012 at 02:33 AM
I WISH YOU COMPLIMENT OF THE SEASON WITH GREAT JOY IN MY HEART FOR COMING IN CONTACT WITH YOU AND I HAVE A SPECIAL REASON OF CONTACTING YOU WHICH I WILL MAKE KNOWN TO YOU WHEN I GET YOUR RESPOND ON MY EMAIL ADDRESS(sarahissa130@yahoo.com)THERE I WILL TELL YOU KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT ME AND THE REASON OF CONTACTING YOU.Sarah GOD BLESS YOU DEAR

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