OPC Works to Put the Brakes on Questionable Pepco Plans that Could Increase Your Rates
OPC does not waiver when it comes to aggressive defense of fundamental ratepayer issues. After extensive review of Pepco’s rate increase proposal, on January 12, OPC filed expert testimony explaining why the Public Service Commission should reject Pepco’s $190 million request to rates over the next three years.
In every rate case, OPC assembles economics, accounting, and engineering experts to review every aspect of a utility’s application. With OPC, these expert witnesses have developed a comprehensive assessment, pulling together facts, data, and information that support why Pepco’s proposal should be rejected.
The assessment reveals that Pepco may be seeking to “gold plate” its services. That translates into additional company spending to be passed on to consumers that are not necessary to provide quality service.
Additionally, Pepco may be attempting to capitalize on the growing demand for environmentally friendly options and the District’s climate goals through “greenwashing.” That is, attributing certain costs to the goal of reaching “green” standards that actually increase shareholder profits, at the expense of consumers.
OPC is intent on ensuring all rate increases are justifiable, fair, and reasonable. We’ll keep you up to date as the rate case proceeds.
Old-to-New School Transition
About a year ago, OPC hosted a community meeting to hear from consumers, primarily senior citizens in Ward 5, who had concerns about Verizon’s transition from copper wire to fiber optics and its impact on their landline telephone service. Verizon has informed customers with landline phones that the company will no longer provide service over copper lines, and to maintain service with Verizon, they must switch to fiber. As seniors in other wards are still saying they are not happy with the transition, OPC held a briefing on January 18 in partnership with Ward 7 community representatives to get some answers.
DC residents continue to be concerned about the possible loss of phone service during power outages and the quality of information Verizon is providing on the transition. Verizon representatives maintained that the transition has gone well. Nonetheless, OPC urged the phone company to do a better job of informing its DC customers what to expect.
Why is this happening?
Over the last few years, the largest telecom providers have increasingly replaced “old school” service over copper wire infrastructure with service via internet-based fiber optic cables. According to the providers, there is a decreasing use of traditional landlines, and the newer fiber is more reliable and cheaper to maintain.
Why are consumers concerned?
Many consumers believe copper wire service is more reliable because the copper lines carry enough electricity to enable corded phones to continue to operate during a power outage without the need for a battery backup.
What does this mean for consumers?
According to Verizon, the transfer to fiber will be at no additional cost to consumers and protections will be unchanged. Verizon states it will provide a backup battery device at no charge that will allow you to make and receive calls, including to 911, on corded telephones during a power outage. The backup devices contain D-cell batteries that consumers may replace if needed.
As the advocate for landline phone consumers, we urge you to contact OPC at (202) 727-3071, should you experience problems with your service or have questions about the transition.