There were no demonstrators opposing nuclear power plant construction at this year's annual meeting of the Potomac Electric Power Co. And Evelyn Y. Davis, the professional stockholder and gadfly who aroused the hostility of stockholders last year, was notably absent.
Having been notified of Pepco's first quarter results last week, the shareholders gathered yesterday at the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater settled into a calm meeting highlighted by a discussion of a shareholder resolution on nuclear power plants.
(Last week Pepco reported first quarter profits of $16.6 million (35 cents a share) on revenues of $145 million compared with last year's earning of $15.5 million (33 cents) on revenues of $123 million.)
The proposal, sponsored by the All Souls Unitarian Church, retired psychologist Frederick G. Tice and church member Elizabeth S. Johnson, would have required the company to postpone the planning of construction of any nuclear power plants until it had submitted a detailed financial report on them to stockholders.
Sponsors of the proposal had been unable last year to get the question on the proxy statement because the Securities and Exchange Commission agreed that the proposal dealt with "ordinary business" and therefore could be excluded.
The sponsors, while concerned with safety and environmental factors, confined their discussion primarily to financial questions.
Chairman and president W. Reid Thompson argued that Pepco had already invested thousands of manhours in studies of the financial, safety and environmental aspects of the proposed nuclear plants and that all the information was on the public record. But proposal sponsors contended that the issue was too important for the company not to put together on understandable study for stockholders.
Johnson, a District resident, said that circumstances gave the company time to consider the prudence of an investment in a nuclear plant at Douglas Point, Md.
"We of Pepco are given time by conservation events around us," he said. "We have time because Pepco had a reserve capacity at the end of 1976 to 43 per cent. We have time because Pepco has two fossil fuel plants."
Of two planned nuclear plants at Douglas Point, Pepco has postponed the planned operating date of one until 1987 at the earliest and deferred indefinitely.
Although their resolution was defeated, the sponsors was nevertheless pleased by the vote they got. Approximately 2.3 million shares were voted for the proposal, more than 9 per cent of all shares voted. More than 23 million shares were voted against the proposal.
Donald Schwartz, a Georgetown University Law School professor who has volunteered his services to the cause, pointed out that "Reid Thompson is no fool. They listen to what people out there are saying." He also noted that the proposal got a sufficiently large vote to be eligible for reintroduction next year.
Two other proposals, offered by the absent Davis, were defeated. On would have required the compney to disclose any political contributions and the other would have required the disclosure of the names of law firms retained by Pepco and of any public officials who are members of those firms.
The only proposal management made, which was approved, was to increase the number of authorized shares of common stock from 50 million to 80 million.
Thompson explained that the increase was sought so that the company would be able to issue stock in the future to finance construction costs. In response to a question, he said that although the company has no plans currently to issue stock, he does expect that it eill be needed in the coming year.