BGE problems didn't begin with Irene

September 07, 2011

I have to take BGE at its word that it was prepared to restore service in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. However, BGE clearly had problems, at least in our neighborhood, all summer. This is what we experienced in Northwest Baltimore city:

June 9 — Lost power at 8:30 p.m. Power was out for just over 12 hours and was restored at 9 a.m. on June 10.

June 10 — After a whole 10 hours with electricity, we lost our power again at 7 p.m. That time it was only out for about 2 hours.

July 23 — This was the very hot Saturday after so many people had complained about PeakRewards on Friday. Our power went out at about 2 p.m. We packed up our dog and went to a relative's apartment. We checked several times for outage updates, which kept changing. The last update, around 8:30 p.m, was for restoration at 2:30 a.m. on July 24. We spent the night with our relative. We estimate that the power was out for 12 hours again.

August 14 — We lost power at 9:30 a.m. It came back on at about 12:45 p.m, so we were out for more than three hours again My husband, who works from an office in our home, noted that the power had hiccuped almost every morning around 9-9:30 a.m. and he had to reset clocks.

August 28 — Our power went out at about 2;30 a.m. We weren't surprised, because Irene was really howling. We were out for 106 hours, until 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 1.

That's a total of at least 29 hours of outages in June, July and August, not counting the 106-hour outage caused by Irene. That's an average of better than an entire day each month without power in a normal Baltimore summer.

Given the unreliability of power all summer, we have LED lanterns strategically placed both upstairs and downstairs, lots of extra batteries, corded phones both upstairs and down so we can call BGE to report outages, and we have even limited the amount of perishable food we keep in the refrigerator to minimize losses. Sometimes we wonder if we live in a major American city or a third-world country. Right now we're trying to decide if we can afford to install a generator.

Clearly, BGE hasn't been maintaining the system properly. I hope the Public Service Commission takes a hard look at BGE's overall performance in its coming review, and not just the BGE response to Irene.

Barbara Herron, Baltimore

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