County Executives Ask for Power Outage Data
In a letter to the utilities' regulatory agency, leaders of seven jurisdictions outline changes they said need to be made in light of the power failures during the derecho storm.
Less than two weeks after a massive storm disabled power to more than three quarters of a million Maryland residents, elected leaders wrote in a letter to a state regulatory agency that utility companies need to improve their performance and disclose critical outage information when government agencies request it.
In the letter to the Public Service Commission, officials urged the regulatory agency to consider changes to the way utilities operate, including burying some power lines underground, mandatory staffing levels and improved disclosure of outage information to local municipal officials.
The letter was signed by Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold, Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, and the executives of Baltimore, Harford, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's counties.
The letter addressed the “well-documented” process of burying power lines underground and insisted that the PSC “must undertake a study that examines the specific locations in the Pepco and BGE service areas that would benefit most from underground wire placement,” as well as a study of the conditions of above-ground equipment.
Patch previously reported that many residents have argued that there would be fewer outages if BGE would put its power lines underground, but a spokeswoman said that’s not necessarily true.
“We have both underground and above ground lines. But the thing about underground lines is they have to come out of the ground somewhere,” said BGE spokeswoman Rachael Lighty. “It’s also harder to detect a problem when the lines are buried and it takes longer to fix.”
According to the Sun, BGE officials said they looked forward to talking with the public officials on ways to "enhance our restoration efforts."
During the recent storm, crews from across the country and Canada mobilized in Maryland to assist utilities as they repaired damage from the high winds. While acknowledging that emergency-level staffing at all times is not a solution, the letter questions the adequacy of current staffing levels and preventative programs such as tree-removal.
“As elected leaders of Maryland’s largest jurisdictions,” the letter read, “We stand ready to work together to make sure major metropolitan areas are not disabled by a single weather event, whether it involves snow, rain, ice or wind.”
In all, 19 deaths were reported statewide during the 12 days of extreme heat following the storm, the Sun reported.
BGE announced Sunday it had restored power to 748,000 customers after the storm, including outages that resulted from subsequent, less damaging storms last week.