BGE customers to grade company on power restoration after Irene

Company says bills won't go up until next summer

BALTIMORE - The anger following Hurricane Irene went on for days. Signs in front yards protested BGE's response time.

Hundreds of customers were in the dark for over a week. Margaret DiNardo was one of them. Turns out, a simple fuse was the problem.

"I went without power for seven days and it only took this man five minutes to put it on. We do not have the technology. BGE has not invested any money in their company," said DiNardo.

Tonight, given a chance to voice their frustration, DiNardo had just about a dozen people join her. But 750,000 customers were in the dark at the height of the storm.

BGE brought in over 2,000 workers from 18 states to help restore power, and some customers showed up just to say thanks.

"I understand the 2 a.m. call ins, the 16-hour weeks, and the long weeks away from family," said one woman.

Others are demanding some change.

"We gotta find a way to retaliate if we're going to be screwed again," said Leo Burroughs.

The Public Service Commission listened to the complaints and will recommend changes to BGE. Utility representatives were at the hearing.

One common complaint is re-evaluating how BGE prioritizes the outages.

"After you deal with the public safety, to try to bring the most customers back as quickly as possible on the big feeders, the thousand, 2,000, 3,000 customers - you invariably are restoring power to many of those customers who want that priority restoration," said BGE spokesman Rob Gould.

State Senator Nancy Jacobs represents Cecil and Harford County. She says Delmarva Power in Cecil handled the outages more quickly than BGE in Harford County.

"Cecil County got hit just as hard as Harford County did, but yet it seemed like they were better prepared," said Sen. Jacobs.

If you want to speak out, there will be another opportunity on October 11th in the Wohlman building on Gay St. in Baltimore.

BGE says it cost $81 million to restore power following Hurricane Irene , and eventually the utility will ask for a rate increase. Spokesman Rob Gould says the earliest it will come is next summer.

 

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