Letter: Senator Rosapepe responds to letter on utility outages

Mr. Land's recent letter ("State senators were misleading in call for Pepco and BGE fines," Laurel Leader, July 26), defending Pepco's and BGE's repeated failures to provide the reliable service for which local businesses and residents pay them, ignored several important facts.

First, while the major power failures are primarily the result of overhead electric lines knocked over by wind or trees, many power failures are the result of worn out infrastructure. I've repeatedly heard from local businesses and residents who have lost power on dry, sunny days.

Second, the only reason trees are a problem is that BGE and Pepco have lobbied effectively to prevent undergrounding of major and older lines. Communities such as Columbia, which have underground lines because a farsighted Maryland legislature 40 years ago required undergrounding in new developments, have far fewer power failures than older communities such as Laurel. Nations such as the UK, Germany and the Netherlands bury the great majority of their power lines and have more reliable power.

Third, we're not suggesting undergrounding every power line. Some do have more economic impact than others. For example, the line to my house affects one family. The line to Russett, which repeatedly fails during big storms, affects thousands of families. The value of burying Russett's would be thousands of times the size of burying mine — and at not much higher cost. It should be done first. That's economics 101.

Fourth, repairing power lines clearly is dangerous and requires specialized training. But to suggest, as Mr. Land seems to, that it's more dangerous than fighting fires or fighting wars defies common sense. It's not. It takes specialized training. But, to suggest that there are not enough Marylanders with the motivation and capability to learn the skills required, is nonsensical. Of course there are — right here in Laurel.

Pepco and BGE power failures don't have to disrupt our homes and businesses — and undermine our economy — if we come together behind common sense solutions to keep the power on.

Making excuses, while refusing to invest in 21st-century infrastructure, won't do it.

Sen. Jim Rosapepe

District 21

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