Watson pushed reliable power in Howard [Letter]

September 30, 2014

Power reliability was a foreign concept just a few years ago. For years, many of us in Howard County suffered through power outage after power outage. We lost freezers full of food, stayed overnight in hotels and risked running generators to stay warm. Sometimes, as in the case of the derecho in June of 2012, we were without power for days and weeks. Things have been markedly better in the last year when it comes to power outages, and lest we forget, I wanted to remind everyone how this happened and why we owe our thanks to Councilwoman Courtney Watson.

In October of 2012, the Howard County Council adopted a resolution that Ms. Watson introduced that requested that the Public Service Commission of Maryland (PSC) investigate the reliability of power in certain areas of Howard County that had suffered frequent failures. Over 250 streets were listed in the resolution. In that same month, the council filed a petition to consolidate an existing PSC petition filed by Cathy Eshmont on behalf of Reliability 4HOCO, a citizens group, which had been working toward secure and dependable power service. Combining these petitions, in effect, reinforced the case and streamlined the investigation.

PSC declined Baltimore Gas and Electric's request to dismiss the complaints and undertook a detailed consideration of the evidence. It required BGE to create a work plan, complete fixes to Phase I by Dec. 31, 2014 and ordered reporting of BGE's work plan status and reliability metrics before the end of 2013 and on an annual basis. Further, the PSC directed that BGE undertake an annual survey to assess customer satisfaction. A schedule and report for Phase II was issued in January of 2014 and is currently in the implementation process.

Ms. Watson showed tremendous leadership in listening to the concerns of citizens and organizations like Reliability 4HOCO. She created a partnership between local government, citizens, and the private sector that ultimately lead to a satisfactory resolution.

The citizens of Howard County are much better prepared now for dependable power during any weather event. Looking forward, we could use a county executive who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves and get things done as she did in fighting BGE to keep our power on. It would serve us all well to have her as our next county executive in Howard County.

James Mundy, Ellicott City

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