Maryland Public Service Commission holds hearings about power outage response

A day after irate customers blasted Pepco for their poor response to June’s deadly Derecho, the utility company will likely get yet another earful during a second public hearing in Prince George’s County Wednesday night.

The hearing begins at 7 p.m. at the Rennie Forum at Prince George's Community College, located at 301 Largo Road, in Largo.

Tuesday night, some of the people who were without power for nearly a week turned their frustration on their power provider.

Customers took turns sounding off over Pepco's response following the derecho.

Each speaker was given five minutes to vent.

Ed Levine of Montgomery County called the company's response "...incompetence, deceit and misappropriation of funds."

Many who packed the Maryland Public Service Commission public hearing felt 300 seconds wasn't nearly enough time to describe the gravity of the problem.

Joel Freedman, also of Montgomery County, said, "This isn't Haiti, but that is the peril we have and it's getting worse every time...there will be dead bodies because of it."

For years, the utility giant has been roundly blasted for poor reliability and anemic response times. But Pepco insisted in a recent self-assessment the company responded quickly under difficult circumstances in the wake of the storm.

Irate rate payers blasted the Public Service Commission, the agency responsible for regulating Pepco.

"I'm asking you to do the right thing. Tell them that they've had three strikes, and they are out.," Montgomery County resident Catherine Pickar said.

"The problem when it comes to Pepco is you have failed to do your job year, after year, after year.," added Abbe Milstein of Montgomery County.

The worry of many in attendance isn't their power bill, but the fundamental fear of not knowing how much they will suffer during the next, inevitable outage.

"And that's how we are living every damn day," exclaimed Montgomery County resident Mary Caroline Colletti.