After the storm, concerns persist over readiness,...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

After the storm, concerns persist over readiness, response

For the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. to take one week to restore power to some of its customers after the passing of Tropical Storm Floyd is a sign that the utility company is woefully under-prepared to handle such weather events.

It begs the question whether the utility is even prepared to handle lesser weather events.

A thorough investigation of the utility by the Maryland Public Service Commission, the governor's office and General Assembly is in order.

Such an investigation should focus on the following issues: Whether BGE's downsizing over the past several years has resulted in inadequate staffing of line maintenance and field crews.

Whether BGE's diversification into appliance sales and real estate development detracts from its ability to provide reliable generation and transmission of electricity.

Whether deregulation will induce BGE to ignore expenditures (line maintenance and field crews) that don't contribute directly to the bottom line.

The Sun should launch a similar investigation of its own.

Theodore A. Kluga, Annapolis

As a retired BGE employee, I have been following with great interest and concern the response to the utility's apparent lethargy in restoring electric service in the wake of Floyd.

Could the reason for the delay be that the utility, like many other companies, has in recent years retired many of its most experienced employees -- a cost savings that leaves them with younger and less experienced personnel?

These cost savings have left BGE with fewer people to do more work.

At the same time, BGE has been becoming more diversified, branching out into other areas.

Is BGE's management sacrificing the welfare of Marylanders to expand its portfolio and its stockholder dividends?

George J. Grauer, Berlin

Like Will Rogers, all I know is what I read in the papers. The Sun said the highest wind gust recorded locally during "Hurricane Floyd" was 67 mph in Calvert County.

By definition, a hurricane must achieve sustained winds of at least 74 mph.

If the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co cannot cope with what was only a tropical storm, what will happen if we really do have a hurricane?

I was fortunate in only losing my power for about 12 hours. Others were without power for a week or more.

Both the state and BGE need to make better plans and be more aggressive in dealing with widespread power outages.

Continuing to refer to this tropical storm as a "hurricane" is only making apologies for BGE's dismal performance.

I wish The Sun and the TV stations would stop doing that.

Michael Connell, Baltimore

Poor line maintenance may have caused outages

When our power was finally restored Sept. 22, after we were without electricity for more than six days, we were grateful for the expertise, hard work and courtesy of the repairmen from an electrical contractor from Virginia and Kentucky as well as the Asplundh tree trimming crews from southwest Virginia and Tennessee.

These men for years have done similar emergency work throughout a five-state area.

To a man, they said they had never been to a place where the lines were in such bad shape, and that so many trees had overgrown the lines that serious power outages were inevitable with the storms high winds.

Perhaps the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. has fallen grossly behind in its maintenance.

John W. Stump, Bel Air

Utility linemen deserve a great big 'thank you'

I want to say a few words on behalf of the men and women of the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. and those from other states who came to Maryland to help us clean up after Floyd.

Have any of those who complained about their work given any thought to what those BGE employees were up against and what a great job they did?

Have they stopped to think that while those repairmen were working all hours of the day and night, they also had homes without power?

Give another thought also to the men from other states. They slept and ate and went back to work.

They traveled a long distance to get here, gave their all and then had a long trip home.

Instead of complaining, the next time you see a "trouble truck" and crew on the streets repairing lines and lights, tip your hat and just holler a great big thank you.

Caroline Trimmer, Baltimore

Storms may disturb the bay, but we shouldn't follow suit

Is M. Sigmund Shapiro so afraid to let the political process decide the fate of bay dredging that he feels compelled to persuade others of his ridiculous conclusions ("Floyd disturbed the bay, much as dumping would," letters, Sept. 23)?

The storm actually did the opposite of dredging, which is why the channel must constantly be dredged.

But the real problem is that, under Mr. Shapiro's premise, whenever nature wreaks havoc, we apparently should join in -- if we can profit.

Because there are forest fires, should we be allowed to burn down forests whenever it benefits us?

Because earthquakes occur, are we justified in razing neighborhoods, if we can make a dollar that way?

Dredging the bay is harmful, for it works against nature. Yet, because of the "economic impact" of the port, we are told it must be done.

But the economic significance of the Chesapeake Bay encompasses much more than the port of Baltimore.

Anyone should understand the need to protect the bay, even if that means having to spend a little extra for responsible disposal of dredged material.

David Norton, Pasadena

Environmental devastation may alter what's news

During what has been one of the hottest and most drought-stricken years on record (until we were inundated by a hurricane) The Sun buried an article about the United Nations Global Environment Outlook 2000 report.

According to The Sun, the report "paints a devastating picture of the planet's condition," finds that "it's already too late to stop global warming" ("U.N. report on the environment calls for drastic damage control," Sept. 22).

But apparently The Sun thought this deserved only a small, wire-service article on page 21A. The article appeared just above one about Spanish woman who accidentally threw her father's life savings out while airing out a blanket.

If the report's predictions come true, our perception of what is newsworthy might change.

For example, if sea level rises, we likely won't see any more reports about dredging Baltimore's harbor. We probably wouldn't have to worry about the Baltimore harbor -- or any other harbors.

News stories about reducing nitrogen levels in the Chesapeake Bay might pale in comparison to stories about global changes in the nitrogen cycle.

Paul Foer, Annapolis

A soprano voice that calms the soul

Stephen Wigler's review of superb soprano Renee Fleming's just-released recording, "Strauss Heroines," is indeed accurate ("Fleming bests Strauss' requirements," Sept. 28).

In a world filled with strife and ugliness, Ms. Fleming's voice provides a district beauty that calms the soul.

Geraldine Segal, Randallstown

Pub Date: 10/02/99

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