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Lost power; Storm outage: Customers expected BGE to restore service despite the worst damage in decades.


NOW THAT power has been restored BGE customers left without it after last month's ice and wind storms, rage against the utility has subsided -- slightly.

In fairness, this storm was one of the worst in BGE's history. Unlike isolated summer outages, this storm left ice-laden tree limbs on power lines throughout the state. At the peak, 120,000 BGE customers, or about 10 percent, lacked electricity. More than three times that number experienced an outage during the four days.

As the extent of the outages mounted, BGE placed its first call for outside help since Hurricane David nearly two decades ago.

BGE believes its personnel and the 150 outside utility and tree service crews performed as well as conditions allowed. Within 48 hours, more than 60 percent of the affected customers had service restored. When an ice storm devastated Maine last year, thousands of homes were without power for weeks. And after most BGE customers had power back on last month, Potomac Electric Power Co. spent nearly a week restoring service to 230,000 darkened homes, most in Montgomery County.

Most of us tolerate the minor annoyance of brief power outages. But being without heat and power for days can cause serious problems. The Public Service Commission should review the responses of BGE and PEPCO. If it determines the utilities restored service expeditiously, perhaps some customer unhappiness can be put to rest.

Pub Date: 2/01/99

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