Friday, May 24, 2013 6:40 PM
Published on: Thursday, October 04, 2012
By Daryl Buchanan
ROCKVILLE-Unhappy with little to no progress on efforts to improve Pepco service reliability one Rockville councilmember has decided to draft a plan he hopes will spur conversation and progress.
On September 30 Councilmember Mark Pierzchala via a website presented a three part legislative plan called Reliable Pepco that could improve electrical service to suburban Maryland.
The first part of Pierzchala’s plans calls for strengthening the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) as the protector of the Maryland consumer. Part two would align Pepco’s interests as a corporation and its customers. Part three works to uncover political donations from Pepco and other PSC regulated services to Maryland’s state politicians.
“I did not see anyone else coming up with a plan. There was a lot hand-wringing and public angst. I wanted to get the ball rolling and have something prepared for the Maryland Legislative session in 2013,” said Pierzchala, in response to why he created the plan that has been months in the making.
Part one in detail calls for the state legislature to find two consumer representatives on the PSC, one from households and another from businesses, this would increase the PSC size from five to seven. Among other points the plan calls for the legislature to provide plans to increase the professional staff of the PSC, reduce PSC responsibilities in other areas, and attract more top talent to the PSC.
Pierzchala says his second part of the plan can align Pepco’s interest in making money and supplying power to residents in the region. Pierzchala says this can achieved if the state legislature mandates the PSC set a time frame where all state utilities achieve the same high standards. Incentives would be given to utility companies that maintain high levels of performances.
Finally part three of the plan aims to uncover donations made by utility companies public information. The donation information would be posted on the PSC website and include utility company names, elected official names, total number of contributions, and donations listed as far back as 2006.
Pierzchala says one of the main goals of this plan and the creation of the website is to increase the scrutiny of Pepco and the PSC that seems to have waned in the months following the derecho that left much of the region without power.
While Pierzchala created this plan he says he hopes state and county elected officials will join in with opinions or a desire to take the lead. “There is a lot of defeatism. I’m hopeful that the County-level and State-level elected officials take up the charge. A City Councilmember should worry about potholes, parks, and plowing snow,” said Pierzchala. “But there is so much silence that I created the website. I will send emails out to all elected officials in the county in the coming days.”
Pierzchala’s plan is not overly complex and while it’s just a start a similar plan he says he created his with the idea that the changes could be made rather quickly if there was a strong desire to do so. But it would take much longer for them to go into effect.
“In theory, the ideas I proposed can be accomplished in a few weeks of legislative session if there was a will to do so. But these things can take years,” said Pierzchala. “If my ideas, or others, are adopted, then it would take a few years for them to fully take effect.”
Governor Martin O’Malley recently introduced a plan to Maryland’s utility regulators that would allow utility companies to charge ratepayers in advance of major upgrades. In exchange the utility companies would have to adhere to strict reliability standards.
When the plan is released Pierzchala said he plans to add it to the discussion on the website he created. To read Pierzchala’s plan and to join the conversation you can visit the website www.pepcoplan.org.