Pepco In the Spotlight for Corporate Greed
(Photo by afagen on Flickr)
Thumbs up to the crews who have been working around the clock to restore power in the Washington, DC, area after a damaging storm nearly a week ago. But thumbs down to Pepco, the major utility company in the region, for valuing profits over service in recent weeks and when it comes time to pay the tax man.
Approximately 100,000 Pepco customers are entering their seventh day without power since the June 28 storm, which wreaked havoc across the mid-Atlantic region. At the height of the outage, 443,000 residences served by the company were without electricity – and with temperatures creeping past 100 degrees, conditions proved dangerous for many people.
Pepco is no stranger to dodging its responsibilities. Between 2008 and 2010, Pepco paid no taxes. That landed the company a spot on the “Dirty 30” list compiled by the Citizens for Tax Justice, a “dishonor roll” of the scofflaws that use loopholes and lawyers to shirk their corporate responsibilities.
Pepco routinely lands on lists of the worst-performing utilities in terms of reliability and service. From 2008 to 2010, the same time the utility earned some of the lowest ratings in the industry, the company’s CEO prospered. Pepco raked in nearly $900 million in profits, Pepco Holdings CEO Joseph Rigby earned nearly $9 million, and other high-level officials earned more than $22 million. Simultaneously, the company cut back on trimming trees and modernizing infrastructure.
Things really started to slide after deregulation occurred in 2001. Advocates said deregulating the electric industry would lower costs and improve services, but that didn’t happen. Pepco’s descent accelerated as the company shifted from hiring union utility workers to non-union, temporary contractors. Makes the case for stronger regulations, union workers, and more governmental oversight, don’t you think?