Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Yes, we were one of the more than half of Pepco customers who lost power last weekend. We've been without power after heavy snowstorms and hurricanes, and wintertime is worst. This time, the power was out for us for 40 hours -- enough to jeopardize all our refrigerator contents and to leave us sweaty and sleepless at night.

But wait! This isn't a Third World country. Pepco isn't supposed to stand for "Pakistan electric power."

Many people argue for putting power lines under ground. I'm not sure the high cost has sufficient benefits, for I had power outages when I lived on Capitol Hill and water leakage on underground cables deprived us of power and were difficult to repair.

The best answer is to be tougher on the electric companies. I was outraged to read Gregg Easterbrook's piece on Pepco, which noted that it has done a far slower repair job than neighboring power companies. He also says that the Maryland regulatory commission that is supposed to protect us, caved in to Pepco management. "Maryland Public Service Commission allowed Pepco to cut back on maintenance, in order to divert funds to dividends and management bonuses," he says.

Maybe we need an 18th century form of accountability -- public humiliation. I'd like to require the top three Pepco officials, and at least 3 people from the Commission to live in power-less residences as long as more than, say, two percent of customers are without power. No generators allowed either.

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