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BGE CEO Suggests 'Selectively' Burying Power Lines

But at a hearing with the PSC, the chief executive officer supported the utility's decision to withhold information from officials to protect customers' privacy.

The chief executive officer of BGE told the state’s utilities regulator on Thursday that the only way to shorten the length of major power outages would be to have a “very different delivery system,” the Baltimore Sun reports.

BGE CEO Kenneth W. DeFontes Jr. was speaking at a Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) hearing, scheduled after more than 760,000 Maryland residents lost power in the wake of the late-June derecho storm. 

At the hearing, which is standard procedure after “major outage events,” DeFontes reportedly told regulators that BGE would need to bury some power lines–and more aggressively trim trees–to prevent more long-term outages.

After , customers who lost power were in the dark for an average of 38 hours. For some people, .

“A part of the solution has to be having less damage to repair," the Sun reported DeFontes telling commissioners. “Undergrounding selectively has to be part of that solution.”

In response to criticisms levied by several county executives and the Baltimore City mayor that until days after the storm hit, DeFontes said the company was trying to protect their customers’ privacy.

The Sun reports that he said BGE did not know “with certainty how carefully it would be protected.”

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David J Iacono September 14, 2012 at 03:31 PM
It seems utilities have had a 100 years to reach the conclusion that it would be more effective to bury power lines. Instead of padding CEO compensation and investor profits, how about using some of that money to aggressively begin burying power lines. In the long run, it seems this would reduce cost and raise profits. With climate change kicking in, the problem of prolonged power outages because of downed powerlines will likely increase and be very costly.
CS September 14, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Absolutely correct, David. I'm pretty sure over the years they've had time to kick back and think about how much of those dollars could be spent serving their customers better by selectively burying power lines and more aggressively trimming trees. Now that they've reached that conclusion I wonder how long it will actually take them to implement the solution.
Doug K September 14, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Realistically, the utility isn't going to pay it either way, the rate payer is. As a regulated utility, they receive a "fair" profit on their costs and build that into their rates. If they spend millions to bury the lines, they'll be able to raise the rates to pay for it. It would be interesting to see the actual calculations and how much it would affect rates. More reliability for $5 a month? Most would go for that. More reliability for $500 a month? Most wouldn't go for that. But until we get an idea of what the ultimate effect is on the rates, we would have no way to make that cost/benefit tradeoff.
Electorate.Me September 25, 2012 at 12:56 PM
Did you speak at the hearing or write a letter to the PSC? Post your speech or letter on www.Electorate.Me for the rest of us who couldn't make it to hearing.

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