- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The Calvert County Board of County Commissioners told Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. on Sept. 25 there is still room for improving recovery efforts in Calvert County.
During the BOCC’s regular meeting, BGE administration presented the commissioners with a report of BGE’s recovery after the June “derecho” storm.
“The last 10 percent took a week [to get power restored]. That’s over 700 of your customers. And this is chronic. These folks are historically the first to lose it and the last to get it back,” said Commissioner Evan Slaughenhoupt (R).
According to the presentation, the storm that hit the region June 29 left 4 million BGE customers without power, including about 6,111 customers in Calvert.
“A majority of the damage was caused by the high winds,” Andy Dodge, vice president of electric system operations, said, because they uprooted trees and snapped branches, “most off BGE right of ways.”
He explained that even routine tree and vegetation management couldn’t have prevented the scope of the damage.
He told the commissioners that restoration was “hampered by extreme high temperatures and three additional storms” and that BGE brought in external assistance from other states and Canada.
In Calvert, BGE serves about 7,759 customers and about 79 percent of those customers experienced an outage after the storm.
The average duration of the outage in Calvert, Dodge said, was 23.97 hours and about 89 percent of Calvert’s customers’ power was restored within the first 48 hours after service was lost.
Slaughenhoupt said that mathematically customers in Calvert may have lost service for an average of 24 hours, “but in reality, no.”
“This is not a good report card,” he told BGE. “There was a more sustained length of time of people going without electricity,” Slaughenhoupt said referring to a chart that shows restoration wasn’t at 100 percent in Calvert until Sunday, July 8 — a week after the storm hit.
“I know a lot of [customers] would change to [Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative] if they could,” he said.
Despite Slaughenhoupt’s comments, Dodge said, when looking at the chart, Calvert fared better than the system, which was completely back online around the same time as Calvert customers.
Dodge also explained that public safety patrollers, who are typically office personnel, respond to “wire-down jobs” to assess the threat to the public and determine if the line belongs to BGE. Then, a public safety stand-by crew, mostly composed of administrative personnel, arrives at the scene to “guard the down wire to keep the public at a safe distance.”
It is the “cut and clear crews” who relieve the stand-by crew and actually fix the problem, he said.
Commissioner Susan Shaw (R) said that one of the complaints the BOCC gets is that when people try to speak with the crews, there is no response.
“It’s really important to have these people respond, even if it’s just to say my job is to stand guard here,” she said.
According to Mike Garzon, BGE’s customer reliability and management supervisor, there are new reliability standards Public Service Commission implemented in new regulations earlier this year.
“By implementing these requirements, BGE will further enhance its already robust tree and vegetation management efforts,” he said, adding that while many of BGE’s practices will remain the same, “the company may need to conduct additional pruning or removal of trees that have previously coexisted with power lines.”
Commissioners’ President Gerald W. “Jerry” Clark (R) said that he appreciates all of BGE’s hard work, but it’s not perfected, yet.
“Not sure that it’ll ever be achievable results,” he said.
In other business:
Ÿ The BOCC approved, in a 3-2 vote with Slaughenhoupt and Commissioner Pat Nutter (R) opposing, the acceptance of a grant from the African American Heritage Preservation Program. The $50,000 matching grant will be used to stabilize the George Rice House and farmstead outbuildings at the Briscoe Gray Heritage Farm, according to a memo from Karyn Molines, natural resources division chief with the county.
The BOCC originally approved the application of the grant in June 2011, according to the memo, and the matching $50,000 required by the grant’s conditions was approved in the county’s current capital improvement projects budget.
The grant also requires a conveyance of a preservation easement, according to the memo.
“The complete rehabilitation and continued maintenance for the Rice house will require funding in future years,” the memo states.
Slaughenhoupt said that although he realizes the matching funds are already approved in the current budget, he was in opposition because “it’s a continuation of what was already there,” and that “we didn’t have the chance to discuss it ... to discuss new initiatives ... and instead we used the traditional way we built the budget.”
Nutter explained that he didn’t feel the expense was necessary because when the issue came before the BOCC last year, “it was very iffy.”
“I don’t understand why you feel like it’s not necessary,” Shaw said. “I hate to spend money now. But if we don’t stabilize this house now, then we’ll spend more in the future to fix it.
“The opportunity to only pay 50 percent of the cost is not an opportunity I want to pass up,” she said.
Clark explained that when this was first brought to the BOCC more than three years ago, “the county didn’t want to put a lot of money into it, so we said to go find funding to offset the cost.”
“When we started down this path,” Shaw said,” we knew there would be costs. Once you turn this down, there will be no further funding. ... It comes down to how much we’re spending.”
Ÿ The BOCC unanimously approved to close the record and signed the resolution for replacement of the current zoning maps of Ship Point Research Park in Lusby.