What is Pepco?
Pepco is the utility company that provides electricity to DC and parts of Maryland (Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties). In 2016, Pepco merged with Exelon, making Exelon the largest utility company in the nation. Pepco has suffered from a tarnished reputation in the DC area for years.
In 2011, the Washington Post conducted an analysis of regional power company data, and found Pepco had poor reliability—Pepco customers suffered longer and more frequent power outages. Business Insider named Pepco the “Most Hated Company in America” in 2011 based on a Consumer Satisfaction Index rating.
Despite Pepco’s lack of popularity, their relative monopoly on the DC power grid allows them to have outsized influence in DC and regional politics. They’ve repeatedly diminished renewable energy transition efforts, and prefer to maintain the status quo, despite DC’s recently passed bill to transition to renewable energy by 2032.
Through lack of responsiveness to service complaints, acting against the will of residents, and lobbying against equitable renewable energy expansion, Pepco has consistently shown they prioritize profits over people.
Pepco and Power in DC
Pepco not only provides electric power to the District, but exercises their corporate power to shape the legislative landscape in DC. We saw exactly how this type of influence played out in 2016, when Pepco was able to force the Exelon merger despite widespread opposition from concerned residents throughout DC and the region, as well as opposition from the Maryland Attorney General. Pepco was able to turn the tide of the DC Public Service Commission, and they voted 2-1 for approval of the merger.
To manipulate the DC community, Pepco threatened to eliminate $2 million in charitable donations to local nonprofits if the merger was rejected. Pepco also falsely advertised a post-merger rate freeze, which never materialized.
Pushing this merger over the finish line via political manipulation and backroom deals showed us that Pepco is exactly the kind of company the prioritizes their shareholders over the communities they serve. DC is a diverse community with strong momentum towards a renewable energy future.
We do not want Pepco to stand in the way of that future by continuing to exert their influence in DC politics and governance.
The No Pepco Pledge
To increase transparency and reduce Pepco’s political influence, 350 DC is asking candidates for DC Council to take our “No Pepco Pledge”. The No Pepco Pledge has three central tenets:
- Saying no to dirty money
- Increasing transparency
- Reducing Pepco’s influence as an investor-owned company providing a public good
What does the pledge mean?
Firstly, it means we want candidates to commit to taking zero funding from fossil fuel companies and companies like Pepco and Washington Gas that perpetuate the fossil fuel economy status quo. We ask that candidates prioritize the health of families, our democracy, the climate, and the ecosystems on which we all depend by rejecting contributions from industry that continues to push us towards a future of climate insecurity.
Secondly, it means that we want candidates to be honest, open, and forthcoming about interactions they have with Pepco, Washington Gas, or other energy providers. We understand that managing where our energy comes from is an important part of the political landscape, but we want candidates to be honest about what happens behind closed doors. If any DC council candidate meets with Pepco, we want to know what they discussed, why the discussed it, and what the goal was for the meeting.
Thirdly, we want candidates for DC Council to commit to reducing Pepco’s influence on the DC energy grid and in the DC political sphere by committing to funding studies for alternative utility models, which are centered on community choice, public ownership, and wellbeing.
How does the pledge work?
We need help getting the word out and pushing Pepco into tight corners.
Throughout this summer and next year, 350 DC will be engaging in a number of actions and strategies to expose Pepco for the duplicitous corporation they are.
We want both the candidates for DC Council and the public to understand that Pepco’s record has shown they are not interested in a just transition to the renewable energy future DC deserves.