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Rosapepe Urges Major Fines for BGE "Surge Reserve"

District 21 senator asks Public Service Commission to fine utilities $100 million for recent power outages, with money going to boost faster recovery.

Sen. Jim Rosapepe (D-District 21) is urging the Maryland Public Service Commission to impose fines against power companies, with the money going to help customers get power back after storms.

In a letter to the PSC co-signed by Sen. Brian Frosh (D-District 16), Rosapepe said a fine of $100 million against Baltimore Gas & Electric and PEPCO could fund a "Surge Reserve" to pay workers to help end long power outages.

From the letter:

"Despite the Legislature's clear policy direction and creation of additional tools to enforce compliance, the power companies failed over the past week to meet their responsibilities to more than 1 million Marylanders. Thousands of Marylanders lost power for 6 days. Altogether, more than 3 million days of power service were lost. Obviously this is intolerable if Maryland is to protect its economy."

Rosapepe and Frosh are urging Maryland residents to sign their name to the letter at Change.org.

The letter comes after hundreds of thousands of BGE customers lost power due to the . In some cases, customers were

Rosapepe and Frosh acknowledge in their letter that "some of the down time was inevitable," but said the PSC should still use its authority to impose fines of up to $25,000 per day, per customer. (That power to fine at that level was passed into law by the state legislature in 2011.)

On Sept. 13 and 14, the Maryland Public Service Commission will hold legislative-style hearings on the storm outages. Between now and then, it plans to hold eight evening hearings to receive public comment.

Jason Humm July 12, 2012 at 07:40 PM
On the surface, this appears to be a good way to rattle the power companies and have them take notice that this is unacceptable. But a $100 million fine on top of their already lost income during the outage, plus the overtime for the crews will just further decrease their ability to pay for the things that can help reduce these issues in the future. To me, this is more of a political move during an election year than a viable solution. Now, if there is proof of clear deficiencies on BGE's part in restoring power, then that's a different story.
Richard July 13, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Isn't it interesting how the politicians are pressuring the power companies to spend millions to upgrade and modernize their systems but want to deny giving them a rate increase to pay for it. Meanwhile these same people squandered the highway funds and now want to raise taxes to pay for the roads they themselves are responsible for.
Rusty Vaughan July 13, 2012 at 01:13 PM
I am a fan of Rosapepe. I like him and most of his ideas. BUT, this doesn't bode well at all. It smacks of flagrant opportunism rather than intelligent management. I would much rather see a sequential study to determine what could be/should be done. The problem likely relates to the grid and not neglect requiring a major rate increase to correct. 1. Study the cause 2. Ask for reporting during the outage as to what has been restored and what is working. 3. Report the cause and ask for discussion. THEN, make statements based on factual data and support those statements. If I were in politics, I would step back from this right now. Inciting anger is not helpful.
Carol B July 13, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Under the circumstances, I don't think BG&E's performance was that bad--at least, not compared to that of its local counterparts. PEPCO's forte is providing excuses, not service--and their customers regularly lose power for days and weeks for a variety of dubious "reasons" while the company defensively protests that it's "doing all we can." The longest time that I've lost power under BG&E was for two or three hours until now: that's a pretty good track record, for nearly a decade of service. Despite the worshippers of Mammon in the statehouse and the political opportunists, I think it would be much more effective to set a maximum limit for outages in extreme heat or cold (it's inconvenient, but not life-threatening, to go without power in other circumstances), and beyond, say, 36 hours, to impose fines that would not go to some nebulous state coffer to be gobbled up or diverted to other purposes by avaricious politicians, but used to build generator-supported shelters for each affected sector of the grid, and to reimburse customers for their losses, based on a set per diem rate per family or some other equitable basis. That would both provide customers with ready relief, and be an incentive to the utilities to seek practical means of reinforcing their infrastructure against natural events common to the area. Derechos may be acts of God, but they happen here every four years or so--to my mind, that doesn't qualify as "force majeure," any more than a snowstorm does.
Richard July 13, 2012 at 03:03 PM
We have had three major outages in three years. A freak strong cold front two summers ago seemed to start this complaining against the local power companies. Last year it was Irene and now the derecho. Maryland has become full of prima donnas regarding this. I've been in West Virginia since the derecho and it is no better here and PEPCO and BG&E are not the providers. Do you think they complain this loud in the south were power outages happen with every hurricane? Also the idea of buing the power lines? I like it but we can't afford it. The cost has been publicized and it's not cheap. That doesn't include burying the phone and CATV lines as well considering the poles are owned by the electric companies and space is rented by the others.

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