Testifying at the Public Service Commission on Pepco Yesterday

Last night I testified before the Public Service Commission in response to Pepco’s request to increase our rates by $60.8 million. Improving our utilities reliability and responsiveness is an extremely important issue here in our community, and I want you to know why I am fighting for you to hold Pepco accountable.

Like you, Pepco’s lack of reliability has dramatically impact my life. In 2011 my father-in-law moved in with me and my wife when his health began to falter. At this time, he was put on a permanent oxygen machine, which he was often unable to breathe without. As a result, we were forced to order multiple back-up tanks of oxygen for him in our home so that at all times he would have an extra 24 hours of oxygen after the power would (predictably and frequently) go out. We had to base our decisions on a life or death situation for our loved one on knowing we could not trust Pepco to not put his life at risk.

I also have a 97 year old grandmother with Alzheimers, who lives in a local assisted living facility. When I asked if they have back-up generators, I was told that not only do they have generators, but they always have at least 7 days worth of fuel in reserve because they also know they can’t trust Pepco and can’t afford to evacuate their many immobile and vulnerable patients whose lives would be put at risk.

A friend on the Somerset Town Council told me that they recently approved a permit for the renovation of a home in the town in order to accommodate the child of a new family moving into the neighborhood. The child has spina bifida and no use of his legs, so the renovation includes a series of lifts to get the child to the various floors in the home, including a lift from the carport where the handicap accessible van parks. The Council felt compelled to tell the family they needed to purchase a generator because that child’s life would be at risk if they expected to receive reliable service from Pepco.

We can do better than this. If you hadn’t heard, Pepco is asking the Public Service Commission to approve a $60.8 million increase in our rates. Before they raise any rates, they need to ensure better reliability for everyone, and in particular for the sake of our residents who rely on life-saving medical technology.

Instead of trying to take $60.8 million more from us, Pepco needs to reassess its priorities and provide us with: reliability in service that we can count on, less frequent service interruptions and outages, outages that are restored sooner when they do occur, better customer service with higher quality information available when we need it, quicker downed wire repair for homes at risk, and proactive tree trimming – not waiting until after devastation has been caused. Anything less is inexcusable.

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