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D.C. regulators tighten standards for Pepco

Saturday - 7/9/2011, 7:28am  ET

Kate Ryan, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - While D.C.'s Public Service Commission adopted new performance standards for Pepco, the city council is working on bills that would penalize the company for failing to make the grade.

The PSC's new rules require the utility to improve its performance when it comes to frequency and duration of outages.

The goal, according to a press release from the PSC, is to put Pepco in the top tier of electric distribution systems by 2020.

The utility had been in the bottom quarter, a track record that put it in the spotlight in Maryland's legislature as well.

Maryland's PSC is currently at work rewriting its performance standards for utilities and is conducting a separate investigation into Pepco's reliability.

Under bills D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh supports, the PSC could assess fines of up to $100,000 for each outage Pepco suffers. And that's not all, one provision would dovetail with what the PSC is doing with the boost in standards.

"We have a bill that approves them imposing penalties, but also allows a charge on the company's equity to be returned to the customers as a rebate."

Cheh stresses the bill would not allow Pepco to pass the cost of any fines it incurs along to the customer.

Cheh says the PSC's action is welcome but, "They're late to the dance."

PSC Chair Betty Anne Kane counters, "Well, we're the only one of the three jurisdictions [D.C, Md. and Virginia] that had any standards, so it seems to me we're not late to the dance, we're leading the parade."

As a separate action, D.C.'s PSC identified neighborhoods that suffer an especially high number of outages.

Pepco's identified more than 30 susceptible neighborhoods from Anacostia in southeast to American University Park in northwest.

The following is the list of susceptible neighborhoods identified by Pepco.

  • Adams Morgan
  • Anacostia
  • Arboretum
  • Bellevue
  • Benning
  • Brightwood
  • Brookland
  • Burleith
  • Capitol Hill
  • Cardozo
  • Cathedral/New Mexico
  • Arizona/AU area
  • Central NE
  • Colonial Village
  • Columbia Heights
  • Congress Heights
  • Eastland Gardens
  • Fort Stanton
  • Foxhall Crescent
  • Foxhall Village
  • Georgetown Reservoir
  • Hamhorne
  • Hillandale
  • Howard University
  • Ivy City
  • Kenilworth

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)