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|Kumar Barve||April 21st 2011|
I am very pleased to report that the Maryland Electricity Service Quality and Reliability Act has passed the General Assembly and is going to Governor O’Malley for his signature. Our goal is to ensure that electric power companies provide their customers with high levels of service quality and reliability in a cost effective manner. The amended bill requires the Public Service Commission to establish certain standards relating to downed wire response, service interruption, vegetation management, customer communication, and periodic equipment inspections. Each company will be held accountable if it fails to deliver reliable service. The penalties assessed for failing to meet these standards are considerable. Provisions include: $25K per violation per day on penalties, increased penalties for safety violations, and the utilities are prohibited from passing on the costs of penalties to the ratepayers. The bill is an emergency bill so it takes effect as soon as the governor signs it into law. When I first asked the Public Service Commission to investigate Pepco’s power outages after the 2010 snow disasters and testified at its first hearing on the problems in March 2010, I certainly did not expect the outages to continue this long or Pepco to be so unresponsive. When we introduced this comprehensive legislation, many delegates, who have other utilities, had no idea of the extent of our outages and the safety, health, and economic problems that resulted. I give special thanks to the Prime Sponsor of this bill Delegate Brian Feldman, Delegate Brian McHale (floor leader) the entire Montgomery County Delegation, Governor O’Malley, and Councilmember Roger Berliner.
Kumar Barve is the Democratic Majority Leader in the Maryland House of Delegates.