Derecho hearing

Bucket operator Julio Portillo trims silver maple and Eastern white pine trees along a private driveway off Stevenson Road, in an area that had a prolonged power outages during this summer's derecho storm. (Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun / August 13, 2012)

Maryland energy regulators were set to meet Thursday morning to review utilities' response to the more than 1 million power outages in the state caused by a derecho storm June 29.

Officials with Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., Pepco and other utilities were scheduled to appear before the Public Service Commission at a 10 a.m. hearing. The hearing follows opportunities given across the state last month for members of the public to share their concerns with commissioners.

The hearings are part of commissioners' efforts to determine whether BGE and other utilities acted appropriately in cleaning up and repairing after the storm, which brought damaging 70 mph winds across the state. If they find utilities were irresponsible, fines could be issued.

The storm struck the region around 11 p.m. the night of June 29, having traveled hundreds of miles from Illinois and Indiana packing powerful winds. "Derecho" storms are uncommon but not unheard of in Maryland and are known for gusts that travel in a straight line, as opposed to in multiple directions as in a hurricane.

BGE officials said in a report filed with the PSC they, along with other utilities, struggled to gather the necessary crews to tackle repairs to 762,000 customer outages in its service area. The average BGE customer was without power for 37 hours, and some outages lasted seven or eight days.

If necessary, the hearing is expected to continue Friday.

sdance@baltsun.com

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