If you witnessed the thunderstorms that hit the area Friday, June 29, you might have thought that they seemed more intense than normal. What was soon evident was this was no average thunderstorm. High winds peaked at 70 mph, downing limbs and uprooting trees. This storm ripped a swath of damage across multiple states and left millions without power, including 564,000 BGE customers in eight counties and Baltimore City.
The "derecho" storm, as it has been categorized, left no time for usual preparation. It struck suddenly and violently.
Despite this, BGE's general state of readiness for summer storms allowed for rapid mobilization. even as the storm was still in the area, BGE personnel were assessing damages and restoring public safety facilities — hospitals, 911 centers, water treatment and pumping facilities.
Crews were assigned to the jobs that would restore service to the greatest number of customers at one time. Within 36 hours, more than 50 percent of customers who had experienced a service interruption had their power back. Progress continues.
BGE received help from more than 900 utility workers coming from as far away as Florida, New York, Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Michigan, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Canada. BGE's sister utility, PECO, an Exelon Company, was one of the first utilities to dispatch crews to Maryland. They joined the more than 1,300 BGE personnel who are leading the round-the-clock restoration and we continue to add more personnel and request more assistance.
Even with additional resources, it takes hundreds of thousands of man hours to work through these outages, especially when crews have to remove limbs and trees that snarled wires and snapped poles.
We know power outages are frustrating, especially when customers can't plan around a restoration time. The recent extreme heat just compounds frustrations.
We thank all of our customers for their patience and understanding and for the encouragement they voice for the men and women working in tough and dangerous conditions. We also thank our customers who prepare for possible extended outages.
Unfortunately, this will not be the last storm we encounter. Despite extensive, ongoing tree trimming along our electric lines and with significant investments in reliability equipment, power outages still occur. Even as we continue to clean up the wreckage left behind by this storm, it is a good idea to prepare for the next event. Visit the online storm center on bge.com to review what to do before, during and after a storm.
Once again, we thank you for your patience.
Jeannette M. Mills, vice president of customer operations
Baltimore Gas and Electric CompanyCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun