We spent the evening, as we spend nearly every July the fourth, watching the fireworks. This time we watched from a downtown apartment building rooftop, among a small crowd. From that experience, I have derived three generalizations. 1) People who talk the most have the least to say. 2) People with the least interesting things to say, say it loudest. 3) The best comments to make on a fireworks display are “oh,” “ah,” and occasionally “wow.” Anything else is superfluous.
Tell us about your experiences with Pepco during the power outage following last Friday’s storm.
Why has Pepco’s biggest response to the outage, and to all of the past electricity outages, been merely to increase its radio, TV, and newspaper advertising to claim that it has been responsive? Pepco’s biggest problems with reliability, whether outages or power surges, have been in Wards 4 and 7. Why have the councilmembers for those wards, when they were Gray and Fenty and now that they are Alexander and Bowser, been the most likely to champion Pepco and to ignore the complaints of their constituents? To understand Pepco’s relations with DC government officials, read Patrick Madden’s, “Pepco Lobbyists Visited DC Officials Almost 100 Times in 2011,”http://tinyurl.com/8yfybvr. Follow the donations and understand why Pepco has so much more sway at city hall than you and your neighbors do.
Pepco contributes not just to political campaign funds, but also to “constituent services funds” and transition funds, and also to the special projects, programs, and policy plans announced by politicians. Those contributions are a lot cheaper for Pepco and other utilities than improving service would be, and they also grease the way for continual rate increases.
Gray, as mayor, has missed two past opportunities to shake up the Public Service Commission, the District agency that regulates uilities (including Pepco, Washington Gas, and telephone companies). Early in his term, he had the opportunity to replace Betty Ann Kane as her term as PSC Chair was expiring. Instead, he was persuaded, largely by former Ward Six Councilmember Sharon Ambrose, to reappoint Kane. Then, when he nominated Betty Noel, the former head of the DC Office of the People’s Counsel, to the Public Service Commission, his administration failed to fight for her nomination, and Pepco’s relentless lobbying persuaded Coouncilmembers Alexander, Bowser, and Mendelson to vote to protect Pepco’s interests, against the interests of their constituents, and to kill Noel’s nomination.
Now there are two vacant seats on the Public Service Commission. To one of those seats, Gray has nominated Joanne Doddy Fort, a regulatory and administrative lawyer who has served as an outside counsel to the DC Public Service Commission and the Office of the People’s Council in more than a dozen cases (PR 19-778). For the other seat, Pepco and Gray’s Chief of Staff, Christopher Murphy, are pushing Gray to nominate Darryl Avery, a regulatory lawyer who has consistently sided with the utilities against the interests of consumers.
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