Montgomery Co. official wants Pepco fined after missed goals

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner says Pepco should be fined for failing to reach a standard for reliability in 2016.

In a briefing with reporters Monday morning, Berliner said that reducing the number of outages consumers experience by improving the System Average Interruption Frequency Index, or SAIFI, was among the conditions set for Pepco’s merger with Exelon.

According to Berliner’s letter, Pepco’s failure to reach the stated goals on reliability meant that customers experienced 20,000 more outages than they would have had the utility reached the goal laid out in documents filed with the Public Service Commission.

“The failure of Pepco to achieve this promised level of reliability post-merger reinforces the belief that customers got the short end of the stick in this deal,” Berliner wrote in a letter to the commission’s executive secretary, David Collins, asking the commission to fine Pepco for its failure to reach the reduction in the number of outages.

Pepco used to have among the worst records for reliability in the nation, but since 2012, when Maryland state lawmakers pressed the utility to improve its service and reliability, there have been marked improvements and the utility has met its goals related to the duration of outages.

When Pepco moved to merge with Exelon, performance metrics on frequency and length of outages became more stringent.

In a statement, the company acknowledged missing a target for power interruptions, which the company blamed, in part, on an above-average number of storms and a substation fire.

“Despite this gap, we had our best-ever reliability year in 2016 and we are on track to meet all of our targets in 2017,” the statement read.

Pepco said it planned to use more smart grid technology to reduce the number of customers affected by outages and would complete infrastructure projects ahead of the summer storm season.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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