Pepco has long drawn the ire of customers, who have decried the utility for power outages, slow response times and little accountability.
Rockville City Councilman Mark Pierzchala hopes to change that.
“I came up with a plan for fixing Pepco,” Pierzchala said during Monday’s Rockville City Council meeting, a pronouncement that drew laughter from Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio.
“Well, you have a chance to comment one way or another,” Pierzchala said.
Pierzchala unveiled his plan two days before Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) released 11 recommendations and a four-step implementation plan to bolster Maryland’s electrical grid.
O'Malley's plan calls for rewriting the way Maryland approves utility rate increases, The Washington Post reported. It would hold utilities to stricter reliability standards while allowing them to “automatically recover costs for some upgrades,” The Post reported.
Pierzchala’s plan is less concerned with rates and infrastructure and more “meant to address the human side of this problem,” he said Monday.
Pierzchala created an online forum at http://www.pepcoplan.org/ to present the plan and seek a dialogue on finding solutions. The website also includes the O’Malley plan.
The three-point Pierzchala plan calls for:
- Strengthening Maryland’s Public Service Commission.
- Aligning some interests of the Maryland consumer and Pepco.
- Shedding light on political contributions from utilities to state-level elected officials.
The recommendations include adding two consumer representatives to the PSC, setting a timetable for all Maryland utilities to meet the same reliability standards and requiring all contributions from utilities to elected officials to be posted on the PSC website.
The PSC held a public hearing in Rockville on Aug. 7 after the June 29 derecho storm left 483,639 Pepco customers without power, including 252,018 in Montgomery County and 158,210 in Prince George’s County.
Pierzchala said he developed his plan after attending hearings and work sessions on the utilities, consulting others and doing independent research. He also expressed frustration at what he perceives as government inaction.
“What has really happened is a lot of nothing,” Pierzchala said during Monday’s council meeting. “There’s been a lot of hand-wringing and people called on the carpet immediately after the derecho [storm], but there hasn’t been, as far as I can tell, any movement from County Council, from state legislatures, anybody to say ‘OK, here’s what we can do to fix it.’ So my plan may or may not be worth anything, but at least it’s a start.”