For instance, within 72 hours, Peco restored electricity to 99 percent of the 511,000 customers who lost power in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene — better than the statewide average.
Outside consultants hired by the Maryland Public Service Commission said Exelon's Peco and ComEd subsidiaries have demonstrated a higher level of reliability than BGE.
John Hanger, a former Pennsylvania energy regulator and founder of an environmental group that pushed for concessions in the merger, said Peco has taken steps to improve reliability over the years.
Service concerns for Peco "were identified in the merger process as something … the new management should fix," said Hanger, whose consulting firm was hired by Exelon this year to do work related to federal clean-air rules. "They fixed it by spending the money to do it."
Peco officials said spending for operations and maintenance as well as for capital projects, such as replacing poles and wires, has increased steadily over the past decade. The company is expected to spend $714 million for operations and maintenance this year and $447 million more for capital projects.
Peco's O'Brien said he has had "tremendous autonomy" and has received the financial support to run the utility.
If the Constellation-Exelon merger is approved, O'Brien would become chef executive of Exelon Utilities, which would oversee the utilities in Baltimore, Philadelphia and Chicago — a move that some in Maryland have criticized.
O'Brien described his role as a facilitator who would bring the three utilities together to share best practices. BGE chief executive Kenneth W. DeFontes Jr. would retain his job under the new combined company.
"I think we've demonstrated our credibility and established trust in Philadelphia," he said. "And I'm extremely confident that that will develop in Maryland also."
By the numbers
1.2 million electricity customers (residential and business)
700,000 gas customers
2,300 square miles of service territory
7,198 megawatts peak load