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County eyes multiple problems in preparing for possible hurricane

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County emergency preparedness official Earl Stoddard said while the County is always preparing for a major storm or disaster it can never be fully prepared for a storm like Hurricane Harvey that hit Texas last week.

Stoddard, who is the executive director of the Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, the County office that focuses on emergency preparedness, said no local jurisdiction could handle a major natural disaster event by itself.

“There is no local jurisdiction by themselves that will be able to manage an event like that,” Stoddard said.

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Metro and PEPCO point fingers at each other

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Hundreds of Blue, Orange and Silver line Metro riders suffered delays of 20 to 40 minutes during morning rush hour May 31 due to a power problem, but Metro and Potomac Electric Power Company (PEPCO) officials disagree on the cause.

Rider Dylan Echter said he was planning to be early for a meeting that day, but when he arrived at the entrance to Eastern Market Station, he ended up waiting a total of 25 minutes for a train in near-darkness.

“Light (was) coming from down the stairs, and there was some light coming from the trains,” said Echter, a D.C. resident. “When I walked down, there was really only light from the train.”

Metro spokesperson Richard Jordan said Thursday the delays resulted from a PEPCO problem.

However PEPCO spokesperson Eric Winkfield disagreed and said PEPCO never sent crews to the site of the power problem. He also said Metro told PEPCO operations that the problem was on Metro’s end.

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Berliner renews battle against Pepco

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Council President Roger Berliner (D-1) is calling for “financial consequences” for Pepco after the power company failed to meet its reliability targets for 2016 after its merger with Exelon.

During his Monday news conference, Berliner, a frequent critic of Pepco, said the power company should pay financially for its lack of improvement in its reliability since the Maryland Public Service Commission approved Pepco’s merger last year with Exelon, a Fortune 100 energy company based in Chicago.

“A deal is a deal, and if there aren’t consequences, it’s simply not OK,” Berliner said.

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More inspections planned after 911 failure

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Sprint Wireless leaders said they will put new measures in place to prevent another outage that prevented customers last month from dialing 911 on their mobile phones.

Brian Hedlund, a Sprint Wireless representative Brian Hedlund, told the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) said last week a defective part prevented Sprint Wireless from sustaining wire line service during a PEPCO power outage Aug. 16.

Hedlund said Sprint had “redundancy,” or alternate power sources, in case there was a power failure. He said such an incident is unlikely to occur but Sprint needs to be ready in case it does.

“This particular switch failure was a very unusual circumstance,” Hedlund said.

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Council asks education and utility questions

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OLNEY – Local residents asked Montgomery County Council members to better fund schools and do something to control utility rates during a town hall meeting Sept. 14 at Rosa Parks Middle School.

Olney resident Michael Binder criticized Pepco’s proposed $13 average monthly rate increase, saying Pepco investors should take a financial hit, as many of their customers did in the past few years.

According to officials from Pepco, the proposed rate increase in meant to recover investments that Pepco made to increase the quality of their service.

Council member Roger Berliner (D-1), who previously criticized Pepco for the proposed rate increase, said the council does not have jurisdiction to change Pepco’s rates.

“Our council has zero authority,” said Berliner. “It is a totally state-regulated entity. We can stand up, we can make our voices known; we can participate.”

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Pepco prices draw local outrage

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Berliner decries 'offensive' proposed rate increase by power company

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ROCKVILLE – Local elected officials spoke out against a proposed rate hike by Pepco Tuesday during a Maryland Public Service Commission public hearing, saying a nearly increase would burden residents.

“This rate request is particularly offensive to ratepayers given the highly-touted $50 rate credit given to customers as a result of the Pepco and Exelon merger,” said Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner (D-1), who has repeatedly criticized Pepco’s management during his time on council. “That paltry sum would be erased in a mere three-and-a-half-months if this proposed rate increase is adopted.”

Berliner also criticized Pepco for prior reliability problems though other speakers said the utility company has improved its service.

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Pepco pledges $25 million each to Montgomery, PG after merger

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Pepco officials are paying approximately $25 million each to Montgomery and Prince George’s counties to help fund energy efficiency and green energy programs.

The Thursday announcement came two months after company executives said they are requesting approval for a 10 percent utility rate increase in order to update infrastructure, which would cost the average utility rate pay an extra $15 per month.

Pepco spokesperson Vince Morris said the rate increase would have come regardless of the merger.

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett concurred, saying that even without the merger, Pepco would still have to raise rates to deal with their gaping infrastructure issues.

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Going Up!

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Pepco officials propose a 10 percent utility rate increase for local customers.

 

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Pepco officials have proposed a 10 percent utility rate increase for its Maryland residential customers, which would increase monthly utility bills by $15 for people paying the average monthly bill of $152.

That totals an extra $180 a year in increased utility rates at a time when county taxpayers may be facing other tax and fee increases in Fiscal Year 2017.

The Pepco proposal comes less than three weeks after Pepco spokesperson Vince Morris said the company would not increase utility rates following its merger with Exelon Holdings Inc.

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