Maryland Public Service Commission Seeks Answers From Pepco, Other Utilities

8:31 PM, Sep 13, 2012   |    comments
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BALTIMORE (WUSA/AP) - The chairman of Maryland's Public Service Commission is asking utilities how they can avoid week long power outages after major storms, like the Derecho in July.  Utility officials say they can't tackle the kinds of problems they faced after this summer's storm within 24 hours.

The PSC is holding two days of hearings in Baltimore. On Thursday the panel heard first from Baltimore Gas and Electric.

Kenneth DeFontes, BGE's president and chief executive officer, says it would need to redesign its power system to restore power to hundreds of thousands within 24 hours after a storm of that magnitude.

Five power companies are scheduled to attend. They include the Potomac Electric Power Company (PEPCO), the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, Delmarva Power and Light Company and the Choptank Electric Cooperative.

PEPCO will come before the PSC Thursday.  The way PEPCO and other Maryland utilities responded to the Derecho in July, how soon they got people reconnected and how quickly they amassed crews are big parts of the evidence being covered.

Testimony so far indicates PEPCO had only brought 647 outside crews to help by the third day of the storm, which is about half of what BGE or Dominion Power had for similar outages.

When asked by 9NEWS's investigative reporter, Russ Ptacek, why BGE had twice as many first responders, Dave Velazquez, with PEPCO Holdings said, "When you look at the total numbers, and you take into account that BGE is a larger company, and if you also take into account, as they have testified, they were able to bring in resources from their sister company, I think that accounts for the differential you see."

PEPCO officials will go before the PSC Friday and 9NEWS's Russ Ptacek will bring you the outcome of their testimony at 6 p.m.


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