Protestors kept out of Pepco shareholders meeting

WASHINGTON – Dozens of protesters converged on Pepco headquarters and a shareholders’ meeting in downtown Washington on Friday to protest the utility’s plans to raise rates and the salary of its chief operating officer.

Many of the protesters had purchased Pepco shares in an effort to attend the meeting, but most were told they could not enter because the meeting had already begun. Others were allowed in the building, but not the meeting itself.

The group, OurDC, is calling on Pepco to withdraw its $42.5 million rate hike request, which is being reviewed by the D.C. Public Service Commission. The rate hike would amount to an increase of about $5.50 a month for Pepco customers.

Pepco has said it needs to raise rates to replace old equipment and improve service reliability for its customers.

The protesters also are critical of Pepco CEO Joseph Rigby, saying he is overpaid. They say the utility should pay more in taxes.

Pepco has had long-standing reliability issues and the utility has begun upgrades to improve their service. It says it needs the money to continue improvements of its infrastructure.

In response to the protests, the company released this statement Friday afternoon, “We have a responsibility to our customers to provide safe and reliable electricity. We have a responsibility to our shareholders to communicate with them about our business and their investments. Meeting those two obligations were our focus today, and we remained squarely focused on those important goals.”

WTOP’s Kathy Stewart contributed to this report.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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