Yesterday's annual meeting of Potomac electric Power Co. stockholders was the first Marcia DeWolf of Falla Church had attended. She moved here from florida last fall and bought 200 shares, apparently hoping to help convince Pepco that it needs a new image and consumer role.
Norman Wolcott of Rockville has owned more than 100 shares for baout 15 years. He also was at the Shoreham Americana for yesterday's meeting, and has attended several other Pepco annual meetings. "I'm just an average consumer-stockholder," he said at the conclusion of the two-hour meeting.
Evelyn Y. Davis, the Washington professional stockholder and annual meeting gadfly, owns 50 shares. She was notable by her absence here yesterday, off on the hustings of bigger corporate gatherings.
But Reid Thompson, the owner of 4,049 shares, was notable by his attendance at a meetin he dominated almost completely.
Thompson is board chairman of the Washington-based electric utility company, and his role yesterday was evidence of a significant change in the mood of such annual events.
There were no pickets and demonstrations by angry consumers at yesterday's mild affair, in contrast with previous years, although Pepco is seeking higher electricity rates from regulatory agencies in the District, Maryland and Virginia. There were no resolutions about the dangers of nuclear power. There were no bitter attacks on management by stockholder-consumers.
The only resolutions from a stockholder, two proposed by davis, were not considered formally in her absence (although Thompson read figures from votes cast by stockholders that indicated wide margins of defeat for the proposals on disclosure of political contributions and legal fees).
Thompson established the mood for the meeting in an animated and lengthy presentation (aided by huge slide charts) that concentrated on Peopco's "major problems" - government regulation that affects all businesses, the absence of adequate electricity rates to permit higher dividends for stockholders, and the lack of a national commitment to nuclear energy which could lead to "tragedy."
And most of the questions indicated that Thompson hit the main themes on stockholders' minds - at least those of the 550 in attendance who spoke out. Concern with the bread-and-butter issues were evident in questions about the utility's low stock price (a position shared by most electric firms), taxation of dividends, the amount of Pepco revenues passed on to governments in the form of taxes (18 cents from every customer's dollar), cheap rates for D.C. street lighting, and relatively small stock ownership inPepeo by some directors.
To the extent that consumer activism was considered, there was a change in approach. DeWolf. a former newpaper reporter and a member of the Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, told Thompson that, as a "practical-minded investorM" she thinks Pepco "fundamentally" is a good firm.
But, she told her fellow stockhoders, Pepco's "public image is less than satisfactory," time to assume a consumer leadership role by drawing up guidelines to permit customer involvement in management decisions.
Although apparently unrelated to DeWolf's proposal at the annual meeting. Pepco did announce last night a series of maagement charges that included a new senior vice presidency for consumer affairs, electric rates, corporate fffairs and planning. Paul Dragoumis, 43, formerly vice president for corporate policy, was given the new post.
In another appointment, Peter Benziger, 51, was elected senior vice president in charge of electrical operations.
Stockholders also elected two new directors yesterday: Vincent Burke Jr., chairman of Riggs National Bank, and Edwin Hoffman, president of Woodward & Lothrop. Elected by stockholders for the first time was real estate and insurance executive Flaxie Pinkett, who was named to the board by directors last Dec. 15.
Stock of Pepco is the most widely held in the metropolitan area. Of 123,000 stockholders around the nation (the average holding is 326 shares), more than 43,000 live in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.