- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 12, 2012

Legislators from Montgomery and Prince George’s counties are collecting signatures on a petition asking the Maryland Public Service Commission to fine two power companies more than $100 million each to pay for a reserve of utility workers during emergencies.

Sen. Jim Rosapepe, Prince George’s Democrat, and Sen. Brian Frosh, Montgomery Democrat, on Thursday wrote to service commission Chairman Douglas R.M. Nazarian asking his agency “to hold the utilities accountable, to provide powerful financial incentives for them to modernize, and to make sure last week’s crisis is never repeated.”

The derecho storm that rocketed through the area on June 30 knocked out power to more than one million people and toppled thousands of trees. Coupled with the triple-digit temperatures and the more than week-long effort by power companies to get lights and air-conditioning units turned back on, the storm was linked to more than 30 deaths across the country.

In their statement asking residents to sign their petition for the service commission, Mr. Rosapepe and Mr. Frosh said that the failure of Pepco and Baltimore Gas and Electric to quickly restore power resulted in “food rotting in refrigerators, hourly workers laid off, small businesses closed for days.”

The legislators explained in their letter to the commission that a “surge reserve” could be established, which would be mobilized in the case of another severe storm.

They suggested that the service commission draw up a plan in the next two months that would guide the training of thousands of people — perhaps retired utility workers, retired military personnel, or trade workers — to be ready to help at the next storm.



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