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After Derecho, Public Service Commission Orders Power Utilities To Improve

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A new report by the Public Service Commission is ordering BGE and other utilities to make major changes following last year’s devastating derecho storm.

Monique Griego has more on the just-released findings.

The report says the companies failed their customers, many of which were left without power for more than a week.

At night and without much warning, last June’s derecho ripped across Maryland. The storm knocked out power to nearly 800,000 people and left countless neighborhoods in ruins.

“Just looking down the street, everything was decimated,” said Jessica Hughes.

Hughes’ Woodlawn neighborhood lost service for eight long days.

“It was very upsetting how we really weren’t getting much information,” Hughes said.

After the storm, the Public Service Commission began investigating how well BGE and other companies handled outages.

Residents expressed concerns over lengthy response times, recurring outages in certain areas and whether BGE had enough staffing for such a severe storm.

Now, in a just released report, the PSC says it found the utilities failed customers and is ordering them to improve the reliability of their systems.

“We agree with the PSC that we need to look at the options for enhancing or really hardening the system, making it more resilient to the major storms we’re seeing,” said BGE spokesman Rob Gould.

Gould says BGE has already implemented some changes and is looking into other solutions, like more aggressive tree management and the selective undergrounding of power lines, but he says cost is an issue.

“At the end of the day, there’s a cost to be borne by all of us as customers of BGE,” he said.

“I can’t expect not to have power outages,” Hughes said, but she hopes that the frequency and duration will be reduced.

BGE and the other companies have until April to submit a report on the changes they’ll be making.

Although the PSC is asking for improvements, it also says the company did not break any state regulations.

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