Pepco's CEO responds to Examiner article: Remarks were 'taken out of context'

Pepco CEO Joe Rigby responded Tuesday to a Washington Examiner article, saying his remarks at a Montgomery County council meeting were “taken out of context.”

While the Examiner maintains the story was accurate, the president and vice president of the county council sided with Rigby, saying the story was “fundamentally inconsistent with the message Mr. Rigby shared with the Council on Monday.”

The Washington Examiner reported that the head of Pepco's parent company said he doesn't think the electric utility can be a top performer in the next two or three years.

According to the Examiner, Rigby told Montgomery County Council members during a meeting that in terms of performance he's "not even shooting for average." Rigby also blamed some of the company's shortfalls to its financial struggles over the past several years, according to the Washington Examiner.

"If that had been what I communicated, I strongly suspect that the meeting would still be going on,” Rigby told ABC7. Rigby says he made remarks about how far the company still has to go, but never insinuated lackluster performance.

“I don't a recall a point in time where we were shooting to be average or below average. Where we are today, as we progress, we're going to go through average, but average is not the destination,” Rigby said.

Earlier, Rigby released a statement saying he was “ disappointed and surprised how my comments were totally taken out of context in yesterday’s Examiner.”

“Pepco is fully committed to our customers. My goal is to dramatically improve reliability and service. We are determined to be a top performing utility as quickly as possible and we’re making the necessary investments to make that happen. … Our goal is to avoid outages to begin with, but when outages do occur, our aim is to restore our customers’ power as quickly and safely as possible,” Rigby stated.

The utility has been dogged in the past by outages that have left thousands in the dark, sometimes for days, in the Washington suburbs.

According to the Washington Examiner, several council members wanted to know from Rigby why improving performance was not a higher priority.

In a statement to ABC7, Washington Examiner managing editor said the paper is standing by the story. He said he spoke with Bob Rainey, manager of media relations for Pepco, before the article was published, and read Rainey the quotes in question.

"I read him the full quotes from Pepco CEO Joseph Rigby in The Examiner story. Those quotes were taken from a tape recording made by an Examiner reporter who attended the meeting. Mr. Rainey agreed that the story did accurately quote Mr. Rigby. Pepco is challenging the context of the story. But after looking into it, I’m satisfied that the story is accurate and fairly reflects the key exchanges from the meeting between Pepco’s CEO and the Montgomery County council,” the editor stated.

On Tuesday, the president and vice president of the Montgomery County council sent ABC7 a statement siding with Rigby. Valerie Irvin and Roger Berliner called the Examiner’s story “fundamentally inconsistent with the message Mr. Rigby shared with the Council on Monday.”

They said the council discussed with Rigby how Pepco would work to avoid power outages and restore power in the future.

“While we were disappointed that Mr. Rigby declined to commit his company to being a 'top performing' utility that ranks in the top quartile nationally, he did express his commitment to reaching 'high second quartile' performance. Although the Council will continue to push Pepco to improve, we thought it important to set the record straight,” Irvin and Berliner stated.