ANNAPOLIS, MD (February 2, 2011)– Governor Martin O’Malley and the Maryland General Assembly formally announced today legislation to institute reliability standards for Maryland utilities with legislation to be introduced tomorrow. The legislation, with lead sponsors Delegate Brian Feldman and Senator Thomas Middleton, will require the Public Service Commission to adopt enhanced reliability standards and allow the Commission to fine utilities for poor performance and direct those payments back to the affected ratepayers.
“Despite earnest promises, numerous press releases, and even a six point plan, families in our State went without service for up to five days. This type of failure is unacceptable,” said Governor O’Malley. “The people of our state deserve to have basic standards of reliability – standards to which they can hold their utilities, and standards that include financial incentives for the utilities to adhere.”
This emergency legislation ensures for Maryland ratepayers that their utilities are held to the highest levels of service quality and reliability. The legislation would require the Public Service Commission to adopt regulations by July 1, 2012 to implement service quality and reliability standards, which would address service interruption, downed wire repair, service quality, vegetation management, annual reliability reporting, and other standards established by the Commission. The Act also requires annual reporting by the electric companies as to whether they have met the standards and requires the Commission to “take appropriate corrective action” against an electric company that fails to meet any or all of the standards, including appropriate civil penalties for noncompliance.
Civil penalties collected under this section shall be credited to the electric company’s residential ratepayers in a manner determined by the Commission. Electric companies may not recover the cost of civil penalties from ratepayers.
“The best way to ensure our utilities keep their promise to provide reliable and timely service is through tough reliability standards with serious penalties for nonperformance,” said Senator Thomas Middleton. “I commend the Governor for his proposal to use penalty revenues to compensate ratepayers who bear the burden when these promises are broken.”
“Hundreds of thousands of Marylanders have lost confidence in the ability of their utilities to provide reliable electric service,” said Delegate Brian Feldman. “They are looking to their elected officials to step up and take action. This legislation is a significant step in the right direction and I commend the Governor for his leadership on this issue.”
Tags: power outages