County Council President Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) has been one of Pepco’s harshest critics, but even he had praise for its performance in preparing for and dealing with Hurricane Sandy last week.
Some constituents have even emailed Berliner, unhappy he has complimented the much maligned utility company for helping to minimize power outages in the county and returning virtually all electricity to those without it within two days of the worst of the storm.
“This is what we pay them to do and they did it well,” Berliner said Monday. “It wouldn’t be honest to not give them credit for doing good work to prepare.”
Pepco secured more than 1,500 line personnel from other states to help what was expected to be a long recovery process. The company had predicted perhaps at least 100,000 outages in its Montgomery County, Prince George’s County and Washington, D.C. coverage area.
Those numbers didn’t materialize. Instead, about 7,000 customers in the Bethesda, Chevy Chase and North Bethesda area were without power during the peak of the storm late Monday night, a relatively low number compared to outages from June’s derecho storm.
Berliner did say the days of preparation before Sandy hit the East Coast helped as well as the fact that the D.C. metropolitan region didn’t get the worst of the storm.
Pepco Region Vice President Jerry Pasternak was at the Council Office Building in Rockville to sit in as Berliner spoke about Pepco to the media.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that we had more boots on the ground in this storm. We had the benefit of tracking this storm for five days,” Berliner said. “Pepco I think did what it should do, which is to make sure we had people when we needed them. It was a combination of preparing well and being lucky and that was a good combination for Montgomery County residents.”
Berliner said the storm underscored the importance of creating a microgrid electricity system in certain parts of the county, part of the “Utility 2.0″ pilot he is helping to try to create.