Jeannette M. Mills VP, Customer Operations & Chief Customer Officer
In the case of most summer or winter storms that cause outages, we regularly provide accurate estimated times of restoration (ETR) within a reasonable period. You can call our automated outage reporting system and check back for ETRs and updates. But, with storms that cause severe and widespread damage, like the June 29 “derecho” system or last summer’s hurricane, giving accurate regional and customer-specific restoration times can be extremely challenging.
We want to be able to give you an exact time when power will be restored, and we know you’re counting on it to make plans. When we can’t provide an ETR, it’s inconvenient and frustrating. What we can do is to explain the challenges created by severe impact storms that cause hundreds of thousands of outages, snap utility poles, uproot trees and snarl miles of wires.
Even with experienced damage assessment crews surveying the system, creating damage reports and job tickets, when field crews return to repair damage, they may find unexpected or new issues or more damage nearby. This impacts the original report and ETR, and keeps crews from transitioning to another job with its own ETR. As a consequence, with these severe impact storms, we are cautious about providing ETRs that may set unrealistic expectations for customers and compound disappointment and frustration.
We do make every attempt to provide a realistic assessment of the overall damage and let customers know when a storm is going to cause a multi-day restoration, as we did in the first few hours following Friday’s storm. We also follow and explain our storm strategy that, at its most basic level, starts with returning service to public safety facilities and then focuses on the backbone of the network and jobs that bring the most customers back online. As the restoration progresses, we also factor in duration, giving consideration where possible to customers who have been out of service the longest.
ETRs for storms that are beyond the norm are an industry-wide challenge and one everyone hopes to solve. BGE is working with other utilities in Maryland and nationwide to study and share best practices and find new solutions, including new smart grid technologies. We also encourage customers to think about and prepare for extended outages. Develop a personal plan for outages, and consider what steps you need to take to get through an event lasting multiple days. You can find helpful advice on what to do before, during and after a storm at BGE’s online storm center
We thank you for your continued patience and understanding as we work through the rest of the more than 600,000 outages created by this severe storm, and will continue to provide updates on our progress.