Last night 200,000 Pepco Customers, 120,000 in Montgomery County, Maryland, went to sleep in the dead of winter (if they could sleep at all) without power. This follows almost six months to the day when the utility brought the lives of almost 300,000 of its customers to a standstill, failing to deliver power for days after a July thunderstorm.1
In response to last July’s fiasco, Pepco was reported as saying that costs for necessary structural improvements would be passed on to customers. 2
It’s time for customers to fight back.
On the last day of 2010, Pepco paid a handsome dividend to its shareholders totaling about $60 million, bringing its dividend payments for the year to $240 million.
It’s totally reprehensible that a public utility with such an inconsistent record in providing a vital service pays dividends to its shareholders at all. Until the utility has demonstrated serious improvement in its infrastructure, local jurisdictions should pressure Pepco to halt its dividends and reroute the money to fund capital improvements that reduce service disruptions to reasonable levels.