Since when did the city of Gaithersburg become a suburb of Bangladesh? Those of us who live in the Washington, DC area and are served by Pepco (Potomac Electric Power Company) seem to be suffering from more and longer power outages than ever before, and “before” was not necessarily all that great either.
Earlier this summer, the area got hit by a short, but admittedly severe rainstorm, featuring those always-unwelcome blustery winds. The power went out throughout the area-no surprise. A good number of people had to wait as long as a week before they got their power back-big surprise.
More as a result of that one storm than anything else, Pepco has been called to account for itself in a number of hostile, angry venues.
A lot of these hearings were to provide outraged citizens the opportunity to blow off some steam, but it has also proved to be a field day for our local politicians. Was there grandstanding on their part? Of course there was, but we should all know by now, that is how the game is played. Remember, for all that demagoguery to happen, there has to be a root cause, and, in this case, the utility provided cause a-plenty.
One columnist, Blair Lee of the Maryland Gazette papers, put a lot of energy into excoriating Governor Martin O’Malley for just that sin, going on to imply that his calling for hearings into the outages after having accepted $34,000 in campaign contributions from Pepco amounted to gross ingratitude. Excuse me, but I thought we were supposed to admire politicians who bothered to investigate big contributors to their campaigns if they felt a need to do so. Or am I just out of step with everyone else? (Not the first time).
Yet for all the garish pageantry on the part of the politicians, these hearings have produced some, hopefully, effective results, chiefly a commitment from Pepco to spend massive amounts of money toward getting its widely-strewn act together.
To be sure, there were a number of mitigating circumstances that contributed to Pepco’s sorry performance, which were beyond the utility’s control. I would refer you to AC contributor Christopher Berenger’s article for a detailed examination of those factors.
On the other hand, a representative of the IBEW (admittedly, with an ax to grind) complained in one of the hearings that Pepco fell down on the job because they had too few in-house repair crews and relied too heavily on contractors.
What it all came down to is that the heat and the noise fom those hearings got Pepco to address a clear and obvious problem. Whatever excuse they may dream up, an entire week without power, in this day and age, in this environment, is simply inexcusable.
Blair Lee, the Gazette Papers
Christopher Berenger, Associated Content
Daniel Valentine, Gazette.net
Own observation and experience