I have been reading with interest all the discussion about whether or not to bury the residential electric wires in the greater Baltimore area. I am a resident of northeastern Baltimore County, and I experience frequent power interruptions. Since 2007, I have been keeping track of the outages at my residence. These outages have lasted anywhere from one second to seven days during Hurricane Irene. The total number of interruptions by year are: 12 in 2007, 15 in 2008, 14 in 2009, 19 in 2010, 13 in 2011, and four so far this year. Amazingly, I did not lose power during last month's storm.
The final 2,000 feet or so of wiring to my house is underground, but there are miles of "feeder" cables that are above ground. The thing I find curious is that I have never lost my land-line telephone service. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the telephone wires and electric wires share essentially the same overhead distribution system. So if downed wires due to trees were the main problem, wouldn't phone service be interrupted as well? I think the problem with many of the electricity interruptions must be due to factors other than downed trees, such as circuit breakers and other "safety" devices.
Perhaps someone should investigate whether these devices can be made more reliable and less prone to cutting service due to minor transient events. Resetting an open interrupter is essentially a 5-minute procedure once it is located, but that may take hours or days. Perhaps some of these devices can be engineered to reset themselves once the problem (such as a squirrel or falling branch) has cleared. Or is an average of 14 power interruptions per year considered "normal" by BGE, or Constellation Energy, or Exelon — whatever they are calling themselves now?
Jack Rehner, Glen ArmCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun