The Edison Electric Institute today honored Baltimore Gas and Electric Company with the association’s “Emergency Recovery Award” for outstanding efforts in restoring electric service following two blizzards that struck within a four-day period.
The award is presented annually to U.S. and foreign-based member companies to recognize outstanding efforts in restoring electric service that has been disrupted by severe weather conditions or other natural events. Winners were chosen by a panel of judges following an international nomination process, and the awards were presented during EEI’s Spring CEO meeting.
On Feb. 5, 2010, a winter storm dropped nearly two feet of heavy snow throughout the BGE service area, interrupting electric service to nearly 97,000 customers. Just four days later, another blizzard added more than two feet of snow and affected another 45,000 customers. Final accumulation levels exceeded five feet of snow in some areas, burying cars and making response and restoration efforts extremely complicated. Governor O’Malley announced that Maryland was in a state of emergency.
Before the first storm, BGE coordinated with responders and requested mutual assistance crews that were later dispatched upon arrival. Throughout both storms, the company executed its emergency preparedness plan and remained fully transparent while keeping the public informed of the restoration efforts via frequent press releases and media interviews as well as ongoing updates to its website, www.bge.com.
While restoring electricity to tens of thousands of customers, BGE simultaneously responded to gas emergency calls following collapsed buildings, blocked meter vents and snow plows striking gas risers. During the second storm, a water main break in Baltimore City resulted in water getting into a low pressure natural gas main affecting gas service to 69 customers. BGE safely restored natural gas service to all affected customers in two days.
In all, more than 500 linemen and vegetation management workers from six nearby states assisted BGE, and worked close to 70,000 man hours, while BGE employees worked more than 180,000 man hours to restore electric service. All electric customers were back online within 72 hours following the second blizzard. In all, the utility replaced 25 miles of distribution line and 60 distribution poles.
“While the two successive blizzards certainly stretched BGE’s internal and external resources, the utility’s proactive approach and its forward thinking and planning proved crucial in its ability to successfully execute its restoration plan,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “The company’s solid efforts, including its early request for mutual assistance in advance of the first storm’s arrival, exemplify a commitment to safe, reliable electric service, a hallmark of the industry and a priority for our member companies.”