Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda) blasted the company during a Monday news conference, where he estimated that the outage could cost businesses and consumers there as much as $1 billion.
“No issue is more important than reliable electric power,” Berliner said. “And the simple and sad truth is that we don’t have it, and we haven’t had it for a long time.”
Pepco needs to improve communications and hire more repair crews, Berliner said.
After the June 29 storm, Pepco and other area utilities brought in crews from as far away as Canada.
Berliner favors fining companies for poor performance.
“The consequences need to be real. They need to be big enough to change Pepco’s behavior,” he said, calling a $1 million fine levied last year by the Maryland Public Service Commission a “slap on the wrist.”
“You get to $20 million, you get to $30 million, to $40 million, then you start getting people’s attention,” Berliner said.
District People’s Counsel Sandra Mattavous-Frye said she is waiting for detailed data before determining where Pepco may have faltered. But she said improvements are needed, especially in communicating with customers.
“It doesn’t take a nuclear scientist to see the system is failing,” Mattavous-Frye said. “I know Pepco is not prepared to meet another storm of this magnitude this summer, without having the same result. Something has to be done about that…”
Meanwhile, more recent storms resulted in new power outages. Dominion reported 30,000 outages in Northern Virginia from a storm Sunday night.
As of 4:15 p.m. Monday, 591 customers were without power in Fauquier County and 1,500 were in the dark in Fredericksburg. All service was expected to be restored by midnight.
Michael S. Rosenwald, Mary Pat Flaherty and Patricia Sullivan contributed to this report.