In addition, Pepco argued that it moved more quickly than other utilities to restore power after the violent June 29 storm.
“Unlike hurricanes that are tracked for days in advance, [Pepco] had little advanced warning to pre-position assets prior to the storm,” said the self-evaluation sent to Maryland regulators. “Pepco restored power as quickly as possible, particularly given the sheer number of outages. . . . Pepco mobilized quickly, calling on both internal and external resources to respond to the storm.”
The reports offered a look inside the company’s response to what it said was the most destructive storm for its network of power lines since Hurricane Isabel in 2003.
But they also ignited a new round of criticism that the utility is tone-deaf to complaints from customers and politicians.
“It’s more excuse-making. They are like the failing student that blames the teacher, the course and the books — everyone but themselves,” said Del. Tom Hucker (D-Montgomery). “The problem is not the system or the expectations of customers. The problem is Pepco.”
Del. Sam Arora (D-Montgomery) said the utility’s self-assessment was “overly rosy.”
“I suppose that is to be expected when you ask a company to grade itself,” he said. “This is like asking your child how he did in school before a bad report card hits your mailbox.”
A series of protracted Pepco outages dating to “Snowmaggedon” in 2010 as well as reports of poor reliability have put the company’s performance in the crosshairs of regulators.
In December, Maryland’s Public Service Commission levied a $1 million fine, its largest in recent memory, against Pepco for failing to keep up with tree-trimming and other preventive maintenance that could limit power disruptions due to storm damage.
In the aftermath of the June storm, unreturned calls or ones directed to automated answering services, along with conflicting reports about the timeline for power restoration, were at the heart of consumer complaints.
Hundreds of thousands of people in and around Washington fled or hunkered down in sweltering, darkened homes with no idea when the lights — and, more important, the air conditioning — might return.
Similar reports made public Monday by other utilities in Maryland show that Pepco customers were not alone in their misery. In the District and in Maryland, Pepco had a total of 483,639 customers without power at the peak of the outage. Baltimore Gas and Electric, which serves Baltimore and its suburbs, had 429,841 customers affected.