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Berliner to County Attorney: Re-Examine Purchasing Pepco

Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner pursues the idea of a public power system.

The question resurfaces: Should Montgomery County purchase Pepco's infrastructure and turn to public power options?

The issue re-emerged this summer as hundreds of thousands of area residents endured a record heat wave without power following the June 29 derecho storm.

Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner at the time revisited the idea of an option of a public power system, and on Thursday formally asked the county attorney, Marc Hansen, to review the idea. Hansen last year said the county would need special legislative permission.

Another storm this month left 65,000 without power in the Washington area, and county lawmakers have been fielding complaints from business owners of thousands of dollars in lost business, according to a Washington Examiner report.

“The county should have the right to determine for itself, subject to a referendum, whether public power is both economically practical and a better option for meeting the needs of Montgomery County businesses and residents,” Berliner said in a release on Thursday.

Last September Hansen said in a memo that the county would need the approval of the Maryland General Assembly in order to acquire Pepco’s infrastructure and an okay from the Maryland Public Service Commission before any new public power company could begin delivering service. Pepco would need to be paid “just compensation” at fair market value for its infrastructure.

“Public power doesn’t serve shareholders—it is solely responsible to its customers,” Berliner said in July following the 10-day power outage, route: {:controller=>"articles", :action=>"show", :id=>"berliner-blasts-pepco-demands-change"} -->. “I think it is time for our state legislators to give

Ddad99 September 18, 2012 at 01:13 PM
More advice from the "public utility expert" Berliner? The guy who said the energy tax wouldn't raise electric rates (he's right, of course, you can see it as a separate line item on your bill, not embeded in the rate). This is just a way to put more people on the public payroll, get then in the SEIU, and channel more campaign contributions to council Democrats. Improved service? Not gonna happen.
Help Save Maryland.org September 18, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Berliner can't even get the County budget under control. Now he wants to takover PEPCO. I blame the residents of Bethesda for repeatedly voting this chump back in office.
MS September 18, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Pepco is owned by Pepco Holdings, Inc. (PHI), a publicly traded energy holding corporation that also owns Delmarva Power (the electric utility on the Delmarva Penninsula), Atlantic City Electric, and other energy companies (stock symbol POM, now trading at $18.84 per share). Berliner doesn't need to have the county purchase Pepco. All he needs to do is have the county purchase more than 50% of PHI's stock to control the company. He can then direct management to do as he wants. Berlinger should invest his life savings in it, so as to set an example. Of course, if he ruins the company he will face other challenges in retirement.
AntonFisher September 18, 2012 at 04:48 PM
I am in total support of what Berliner proposes. Public utilities should be owned by the County and their bottom line should be the interest of the people who they serve, not the stockholders.
Bill Hussein O'Stalin September 19, 2012 at 10:35 AM
The investment scene is all about risk. For Montgomery Country to purchase any private company the risk would have to be shifted somewhere. The risk would be shifted to the taxpayers who wouldn't see lower utility bills. They would see some county tax go up on the premise or promise of reduced power bills in the future. The reduced costs will be a forgotten promise and then the county could go on a line burying frenzy that will costs taxpayers many more billions as county unions take over the work environment and soon you will be hearing about how they retired on county funded disabilities just like they do on the county owned police department. In short, PEPCO profits and responsibility to shareholders protect the public from stupid vote buying schemes. In the long run those schemes and promises already promise to bankrupt the county.

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