As BGE continues Hurricane Irene restoration efforts, we want to thank our customers for their patience and understanding. This storm, which is similar to 2003's Hurricane Isabel, caused nearly the same amount of power outages resulting from massive trees and tree limbs falling onto our lines and equipment, yet we expect to have all power restored to those customers impacted by Irene in less time than it took to restore power during Isabel.
Despite the fact that we have restored nearly 80 percent of those who lost power within 72 hours of the storm's passing, we understand that those customers who remain without power are frustrated, particularly as their day-to-day activities continue to be impacted. We want to assure them that we are working as safely, quickly and efficiently as possible to restore their power.
Approximately 5,000 personnel, including roughly 1,800 out-of-state linemen and tree contractors, are currently working around-the-clock. Some of these linemen and tree crews have come from as far away as Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Indiana, Arkansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Virginia, Texas and North Carolina. Throughout Central Maryland, we have been addressing public safety issues, such as downed wires, and repairing critical infrastructure as well as repairing equipment and lines serving individual homes and businesses.
In order to increase efficiency and help ensure the safety of our employees, many of our crews travel in teams comprised of tree and overhead line crews. Often times, a line crew must wait nearby — sometimes in a nearby parking area — for the tree crew to complete its work before it can begin. You may also see safety stand-by personnel guarding a downed wire. Keeping the public safe while waiting for a team to begin work at a particular location is one of our most important jobs in storm restoration.
We remain committed to a safe and prompt restoration for each and every one of our customers. Only then will we be satisfied.
Kenneth W. DeFontes Jr., Baltimore
The writer is president and CEO of Baltimore Gas & Electric Company.