Pepco Says Service Improved in 2018
Utility says number of outages dropped, repairs were faster
Pepco said its customers had fewer power outages and service was restored more quickly in 2018.
The utility reported a 30 percent drop in electric outages over the past five years, along with a 24-minute improvement in the time it takes to turn power back on for Maryland customers. The company said it restored service in 82 minutes on average in 2018, a record low.
Pepco, which serves 842,000 customers in parts of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and the District of Columbia, has been making improvements in its systems, trimming trees and taking steps to improve service after it came under fire from customers, county and state lawmakers and regulators earlier this decade.
“Delivering improved service reliability year-over-year is a direct result of every one of our employees keeping our customers front and center in everything we do,” Pepco Holdings Senior Vice President said in a prepared statement released Thursday.
The Maryland Public Service Commission fined Pepco $1 million in 2011 for failing to fix problems leading to outages, some storm-related. An analysis by The Washington Post in 2010 concluded the company was among the worst in the nation in terms of outages and restoration times.
A variety of factors cause outages, including severe storms that down power lines and damage equipment. In some cases, where weather damage is widespread in areas with overhead power lines and large trees, repairs can take days.
State regulators require utilities to file annual reports on their performance and a spokeswoman said while the PSC hasn’t received data for 2018, the company’s work has improved in recent years.
Pepco was in compliance with the standards governing frequency and duration of outages in 2017, the most recent year data was available. Pepco outperformed target standards, which are set by Maryland law, by significant margins, according to a PSC report from September 2018.
Pepco spent more than $100 million on upgrades in 2018, including installing more than 34 miles of underground cables, upgrading transformers and trimming trees, which are blamed in 40 percent of outages, spokeswoman Christina Thompson said.
These projects were “investments to modernize” the company’s operation, Thompson said.
Customers paid for upgrades through delivery charges, though bills have remained steady since Pepco merged with Exelon Corp. in March 2016, Thompson said.
Pepco is seeking a $29 million rate increase, Thompson said. If the request is approved by the PSC, residential customers using at least 863 kilowatts of electricity would see a monthly bill increase of $3.51, a 2.7 percent bump.