Fix the utility mess in Maryland
We in Howard County have organized under the banner 'Reliability4HOCO' (find us on FB) and tweet #bgeaccountability. We have been unable to get adequate press coverage about our poor service reliability so we have been limited in the pressure we can put on the utility in our area, BGE. We are aware of how much our situation is like Pepco's but due to inadequate press coverage, Pepco customers one county over are not aware that we are in the same boat. But it's not about Pepco or BGE or any other utility company licensed to do business in Maryland. It's about the inadequacy of Maryland's utility regulation and the need for the PSC, appointed by the Governor, to step up and take charge. It's about the State Legislature repealing the Revenue Decoupling Act which currently allows utility companies to charge customers during an outage for the power they ordinarily would have used. Receiving revenue from customers faced with all manner of extra outage-related expenses (food, lodging) should equate to unlawful taking but it is the law in Maryland and emboldens the utility industry to continue with lousy business as usual. Further, the PSC must become more questioning about rate increases. Following deregulation, Marylanders pay extremely high prices for power, and also pay additional charges including line upkeep fees. We-the-people need an accounting of how our money has been used and will be used: no more rate increases just because the utility claims to have lost money in a storm. BGE and Pepco (and any other MD-licensed and regulated utilities) are both ranked in the bottom quartile nationally based on mathematical formulas on duration and frequency of outages and the index of the two. The PSC needs to put any utility licensed to do business in Maryland on a performance improvement plan until the companies are above the national median. Marylanders pay first class prices; we should not get fourth class service. Finally, Maryland needs a real plan to go underground. Stop with the scare tactics of how much it will cost and put together a measurable, trackable, transparent (and independently verified, not just concocted by the power companies or their paid surrogates) long-term plan to bury the lines and let's move Maryland forward to the 21st Century.
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