Carmody's office has criticized utilities for their responses to past storms, including Pepco's slow power restoration during snowstorms in 2010. Such frustration prompted state lawmakers to enact a law this year to hold utilities accountable for their performance. Reliability standards, which are being crafted by the PSC, would allow the state regulator to impose fines on utilities that fail to meet those performance measures.

Irene, which left almost 6 million people without power throughout the East Coast, caused high winds, heavy rains and dangerous tides.

Pepco, which serves Prince George's and Montgomery counties and the District of Columbia, reported about 227,000 customers were without power after Irene. Some 194,000 Maryland customers lost power for an average of almost 26 hours, according to Pepco's report to the Public Service Commission.

BGE said winds uprooted entire trees outside of the utility's rights-of-ways and snapped off limbs, knocking down power lines and damaging its equipment. The outages hit Anne Arundel, eastern Baltimore and Harford counties as well as Baltimore City particularly hard.

Frustrated customers complained about receiving multiple estimated restoration times from BGE and getting limited information or misinformation from call center representatives. They also questioned the utility's restoration priorities.

The outages prompted schools in the region to postpone the first day of classes for up to a week. Some state lawmakers have called for a deeper examination of BGE's response to the storm, including Democratic Sen. James Brochin who wants the Baltimore County delegation to hold a hearing during the General Assembly's special session next month.

BGE acknowledged that it needs to work on providing more accurate estimated restoration times to customers during major storms. Part of the challenge, BGE said, was that utility repair crews encountered more extensive damage than anticipated once they arrived on site.

Since the storm, BGE has been inspecting service territory, looking for unaddressed storm damage and trees or other vegetation that could cause future problems, while making permanent repairs.

BGE officials said preparations began almost a week before the storm hit Maryland. It warned customers that the storm could result in 500,000 or more losing power and began hiring out-of-state workers to help with its restoration efforts.

The company had almost 6,700 people involved in its clean-up work, including 3,800 linemen and tree trimmers.

hanah.cho@baltsun.com



BGE restoration by the number



$81 million: Estimated cost of storm response

17,349: Repair jobs completed

729,150: Feet of wire replaced

8,119: Fuses replaced

348: Poles replaced

247: Distribution transformers replaced

Source: BGE storm report