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Letter to the Editor: BGE Urges Customers to Plan for Outages

A Baltimore Gas & Electric official shares tips on preparing for Hurricane Sandy.

Editor's Note: The following letter to the editor is from Jeannette M. Mills, Baltimore Gas & Electric's vice president of customer operations and chief customer officer, encourages residents to actively prepare for impending storms and anticipated power outages.

While the exact path of Hurricane Sandy continues to fluctuate, as soon as it became apparent there could be a possible East Coast landfall, BGE began the process of pre-mobilizing employees, calling in assistance from out-of-state crews and preparing for a hurricane impact. This is expected to be a very dangerous storm with high winds, heavy rain and possible flooding – all of which can cause whole trees, tree limbs and water to damage our electric equipment, resulting in outages for customers.

Just as BGE is preparing, we strongly advise customers to take the time now to plan in advance to protect families and property, particularly given the strong possibility of extended power outages. Preparation includes monitoring the weather and noting BGE’s number—1.877.778.2222—for reporting an outage or a downed wire. Have mobile devices charged in advance, and for customers who rely on electric medical equipment, it’s essential that you have back up power sources and prepare for the option of an alternate location to wait out the storm in case of an extended outage. Those who have generators should ensure they operate them safely.

Just as delivering safe and reliable electric and gas service is a vital responsibility for BGE, ensuring that our customers are informed is also extremely important. For updates on the storm, visit our website, www.bge.com, follow myBGE on Twitter and Facebook, and stay tuned to the news. We want to thank all BGE customers in advance for preparing to weather Hurricane Sandy. 

Sincerely,

Jeannette M. Mills

Vice President, Customer Operations & Chief Customer Officer

Baltimore Gas and Electric Company

FIFA October 29, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Sorry Joe, did not see your reply. Propane tank. 1,000 gal.
Richard Hertz November 02, 2012 at 05:40 AM
OMG, you were told something by BGE that turned out to not be true? I hate to break it to you, but BGE can't always know, to the minute, or even to the hour, how long it will take to repair a power outage. If my life depended on it, I sure wouldn't be taking the word of some BGE flunky on the phone. Your willingness to be dependent upon others, when your husband's life depends on it, staggers the mind. I assume you're a grown up. Act the part. Take control of your situation. Get a battery backup system. Get a generator. A full-house backup generator can be had for $10-20k. That might sound expensive, but if your life depends on it it's cheap.
John Cole November 02, 2012 at 07:01 AM
The rage against BG&E is because they have taken our money for the last 30 years, but have spent very little on updating their infrastructure, preferring to pay dividends to their shareholders, thereby increasing the share value.. Visit any country in Europe and you will have a hard time finding a pole, and outages are rare, except in severe floods.
The Truth November 02, 2012 at 10:19 AM
The rage shouldn't be against BG&E, as individuals in society the question remains, what steps has one taken to ensure the safety of his or her family and the community at large? Are trees on an individual’s property above or around power lines? Or are your neighbor’s trees? How about the community one lives in? If the answer is yes to any of the questions, it’s not BG&E’s responsibility to prune the trees. “Outages are rare except in except in severe floods”…. Every year a storm hits the mid-Atlantic region, if one speaks of infrastructure regarding power in older neighborhoods, the cost would be unbearable. Between environmental permits, wetlands, and crossing individual’s property, it would be a nightmare for any incorporation to install underground utilities in existing neighborhoods. If I am not mistaken, businesses are in business to make money or at least that’s the share holder’s intent.
The Truth November 02, 2012 at 10:21 AM
Agreed, you don't get if you don't ask...
The Truth November 02, 2012 at 10:28 AM
I have to chime in on this as well...there are men & women from all over the country trying to help MD folks restore power. Be grateful and quit complaining. These folks are away from their families, missing birthdays, anniversaries and friends.
John Cole November 02, 2012 at 10:31 AM
The cost would not be unbearable, as I have said, Europe have acheived. Remember, it would be a shared cost between BG&E, Comcast and Verizon. If Verizon can lay fiber optic the whole length of I95 and Rte 40, this CAN be done. Once it is done, BG&E won't have to pay for thousands of crews and trucks to come visit every year.
NottinghamFamily November 02, 2012 at 10:47 AM
I have friends who just got their power on last night (Carney/Parkville area) and it was hard on them. However, they planned well and had enough supplies, are in good health etc. They did have a network of friends and family to visit for hot showers and meals, so although it was a long, cumbersome outage, they did OK considering. I finally broke down and bought a generator, enough to power four reasonable items at once. While we were fortunate not to have to use it during Sandy, it's good to know it's there. I'm of the camp that doesn't rage at BGE, but I truthfully don't know the whole story or I could comment more appropriately I guess. I'm listening and reading though!
number9dream November 02, 2012 at 11:33 AM
The fiber optic was a new installation. The electric/cable/telephone work of which you speak is a retrofit. I think you underestimate the cost. One of the costliest parts of a highway widening project, from design, right-of-way or easement acquisition, and construction is utility relocation. Take a drive up Belair Road between the Baltimore beltway and Bel Air and count the number of poles and the miles of line. You may start having second thoughts.
FIFA November 02, 2012 at 11:50 AM
I have to question your "fact" John. Please give source for your statement that Europe has achieved this. One of the largest power outages of all time occurred in Italy (55 million people) due to storms. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_Italy_blackout#Causes
number9dream November 02, 2012 at 12:04 PM
@John Cole Are European utilities publicly traded?
G-Man November 02, 2012 at 12:15 PM
John, I believe you are comparing "apples to oranges" on this one. Living there, I do not recall a lot of power outages however, their infrastructure is a lot to be desired. For instance I lived on the economy in a small town in Germany where my house was connected to a work shop. I later realized that I was paying for the power for the house and workshop because they were on the same power source. They don't use meters like we do here in the states.
John Cole November 02, 2012 at 12:22 PM
@number9dream Yes they are publicly traded.
John Cole November 02, 2012 at 12:27 PM
There is absolutely no difference; all properties are metered. However, it is quite common for a business that has an adjoining dwelling to share a meter. There is a reason for that; commercial power in some countries costs less than residential power. The same situation exists here in the UDA; consider farms, for example.
John Cole November 02, 2012 at 12:43 PM
@FIFA The source is myself. I have lived in several countries in Europe, and ran a multinational, which meant a LOT of travelling throughout Europe. The source you cite related to 400kV powerlines which are carrying power from a generating source. These are cables on pylons, not poles, and this particular cable crossed the alps, where it is geoligically impossible to bury them, Also note the average outage was 3 hours, with the longest outage being 12 hours. The innefectivness of ENEL, the Italian energy supplier, meant there were rolling blackout for two days, as they scrambled to get ther natinal grid working properly. 3 hours, or 12 hours - it's a lot different that what many Marylanders have to suffer.
FIFA November 02, 2012 at 12:50 PM
As someone who also lived in Germany for 9 years I don't recollect a noticeable absence of lines. In the cities yes, away from the cities no. But the sheer cost of removing poles in the US and putting everything underground is unfathomable. You make it sound like it is inexpensive, it is not.
FIFA November 02, 2012 at 12:52 PM
As an aside, I don't recollect the last time a hurricane hit Europe?
John Cole November 02, 2012 at 12:53 PM
@number9dream All roads require resurfacing; that is the time to deal with this. This is a one time cost, whereas pulling crews from around the country every year is using up the funds that should go towards updating the infrastructure. Power poles and excessive signage turn this state from a beautiful state to something that is now outdated and a little scruffy.
Honeygo Hal November 02, 2012 at 01:08 PM
BGE estimates that it costs $1 million per mile to bury power lines. Verizon and Comcast would incur separate costs to bury their lines. BGE's stance is that customers would have to shoulder that burden. Hardening costs money - how hard do you want to go?
G-Man November 02, 2012 at 01:08 PM
One reason BGE mentioned with the high cost of running lines under ground was the variances and easements that they would have to deal with. I agree with you to a point but this would be a collective effort from government and commercial entities and I do not have a lot of faith with our state and local government to broker the deal. Also, in my neighborhood our power lines are underground and since the rezoning of power, we lose power often and for a long time. During Sandy I lost power for 2 1/2 days.
John Cole November 02, 2012 at 01:12 PM
@FIFA http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_windstorm#Notable_windstorms I was actually on a cross-chanell fery from France to England when the totally unpredicted 1987 storm hit.
Buck Harmon November 02, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Agree...bury the lines under the roads,,,makes sense so it probably won't happen..
Buck Harmon November 02, 2012 at 01:18 PM
To bury power lines under roadways would not require the easement issues mentioned...at least not enough to make a huge difference.
G-Man November 02, 2012 at 01:29 PM
Okay hypothetically speaking, what happens if there is an issue with the lines. Then the roads have to be dug up, correct? So, the way my lines are buried they are laid underground next to the road. There's a lot of logistics involved and unfortunately I am not an expert. I agree with underground power lines but there are still problems with the existing infrastructure. I still lost power for 2 1/2 days
John Cole November 02, 2012 at 01:37 PM
The lines are buried in a conduite (think pipe) with regular access points.
Buzz Beeler November 02, 2012 at 01:55 PM
John, obviously I think our infrastructure is very frail and faces unpredictable challenges in the future with the obvious climate change that is cyclical. Pay now or pay later. MD was sparred a major hit unlike NY and NJ. We were lucky. You should also know that some of the people you are responding to have numerous AKA's and have very little creditability. Just click non their names and read their comments. It's easy for people to make comments seated in front of their warm house with their computers and power. Did I mention gasoline?
John Cole November 02, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Yes, I am aware of the trolls. Just sometimes (rarely) they have a valid question!
Buck Harmon November 02, 2012 at 02:20 PM
The cost to maintain buried power lines would be cut enormously...the tree maintenance alone is crushing...cost of power could eventually be reduced because of maintenance savings...would be good for future generations...
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