Maryland lawmaker accuses Pepco of delaying streetlight repairs

Maryland’s Public Service Commission is being asked to fine Pepco millions of dollars for alleged long-standing practices of failing to maintain streetlights and delaying transition to energy-efficient LED lights.

The formal complaint, filed by Maryland State Del. Al Carr, requests the fine be at least $3 million.

“Street lighting is a basic municipal service that is important for public safety and commerce,” Carr said in a statement. “Pepco owns and maintains all of the streetlights on wood poles in its territory spanning Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. Pepco’s poor management of these taxpayer-funded assets harms public safety and wastes money.”

The complaint claims that Pepco has failed to respond to issues raised several times since more than a year ago, involving slow repairs, inaccurate invoices and problems with the online outage map for reporting burned out lights.

Pepco is currently reviewing the complaint, according to a statement provided to WTOP, which says in part, “We are committed to further enhancing our efforts to address streetlight issues when they do occur, and are supportive of transitioning to cleaner, more efficient LED streetlights that use less energy and last longer.”

While the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation in 2007 to facilitate the conversion of Pepco-owned and maintained lights to municipally-owned and maintained lights, Pepco still owns and maintains some 65,000 overhead streetlights mounted on wood poles.

The utility company charges local governments, agencies and homeowners associations for the lights’ maintenance and energy use.

“Pepco has dragged its feet in updating their tariff to comply with the law and has erected numerous other roadblocks to municipal ownership,” Carr’s statement said.

“We are committed to continuing to work with our municipalities in this transition,” Pepco said.

“At the urging of the PSC, conversations have been ongoing between Pepco and local governments to clarify the procedure for municipalities to assume ownership and maintenance of utility-owned streetlights,” Carr’s statement acknowledges.

Carr’s complaint also is asking the Public Service Commission to open an investigation into Pepco street lighting.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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