Thursday, February 25, 2010

Barve Calls for Examination of MoCo Power Outages

House Majority Leader Kumar Barve (D-17) has called on the Public Service Commission (PSC) to examine why Montgomery County suffered disproportionate power outages during the recent blizzards. Barve cited the experience of his 83-year-old mother, who had to be evacuated to Virginia, and noted the much lower rates of outage in neighboring jurisdictions. We reprint Barve's press release and his letter to the PSC below.


February 25, 2010

Mary Scholl
301 858 3464
410 841 3464


Annapolis – Majority Leader Kumar Barve has asked the Public Service Commission to determine what actions are needed to prevent a repeat of the massive numbers of electric outages that took place in Montgomery County during the recent storms.

In a letter to Chairman Douglas Nazarian, Del. Barve expressed concern about the enormous number of outages in the county, especially when compared with neighboring jurisdictions. PEPCO outages cited in the Washington Post as of 10 PM the Saturday night after the first storm included 78,000 in Montgomery County, 7,700 in Prince George’s County and 2,200 in the District. Baltimore Gas and Electric said about 11,000 customers in Prince George’s, Howard and Anne Arundel were without power at that time.

“The storm did not stop at the county line,” said Del. Barve. “We need to look at what other counties are doing and copy them because we cannot afford to put so many of Montgomery’s residents in harm’s way. Public safety issues of this magnitude must be immediately addressed.”

One problem cited by Del. Barve was the enormous number of trees planted by the county directly under neighborhood power lines that have been allowed to grow over and around the utility wires.

“The prior policy of pruning county trees on a regular basis was changed and many neighborhoods now have trees crisscrossing utility lines,” continued Del. Barve. “While I don’t know if there were other contributing factors to Montgomery’s loss of power, I know that when you have 1000 lines down, a major tree trimming effort must become a top priority.”

“The good news is that there are many jurisdictions with an excellent track record of protecting their electric infrastructure in adverse weather conditions. If everyone works together, there is no reason why we can’t do the same.”


Following is Barve's letter to the PSC.