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Gov. Martin O’Malley ordered a study of Maryland’s electricity distribution system Wednesday, suggesting that major infrastructure improvements should be considered in the wake of an unprecedented storm.
“As a result of climate change, Maryland may continue to suffer violent weather patterns in the months and years ahead,” O’Malley (D) said in a statement. “Together, we can create the 21st century infrastructure that a 21st century economy requires — these costs and benefits must be evaluated.”
The executive order directs energy adviser Abigail Hopper to oversee the gathering of input and recommendations from several agencies to make the state’s electric grid more resilient.
Specifically, the state must consider the feasibility of placing key power supply lines underground, where they will be less susceptible to damage from the weather, according to the order.
Late last month, a powerful derecho took down trees and knocked out power to nearly a million state residents. The storm and a subsequent heat wave left more than 20 dead across the region.
“I am pleased that we will have an opportunity to broaden the conversation around our infrastructure investments to create a more sustainable grid for Maryland,” Hopper said in a statement. “I look forward to conducting numerous roundtable discussions over the next few months.”
Hopper is expected to report back to O’Malley within 60 days with recommendations for legislation and regulatory reform, according to the order.