Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) today announced that it has pre-mobilized more than 3,800 employees, contractors and out-of-state linemen and support personnel in an effort to proactively prepare for extensive system damage and widespread outages, due to Hurricane Irene’s forecasted impact on its Central Maryland service area. Since Wednesday, more than 1,000 out-of-state and contract linemen, tree personnel and support staff from Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas and Indiana, have been to secured to assist BGE in restoring service to customers as safely and as quickly as possible. BGE is planning for the potential of 500,000 or more customer outages, beginning as early as Saturday afternoon, and urges customers to prepare and review their emergency preparedness plan with their family, in anticipation of possible extended and widespread power outages lasting several days. Customers should not only prepare for outages during the storm, but also have resources in place for extended outages even after the storm passes.
Hurricane Irene is expected to bring sustained winds of up to 40 miles per hour with gusts up to 55-65 miles per hour and heavy rainfall of 2 – 4 inches, a combination that is likely to cause extensive damage to BGE’s electric distribution system due to whole trees and large tree limbs falling onto powerlines and other equipment. This type of extensive damage and the likelihood of power outages affecting hundreds of thousands of customers will very likely leave some customers without power for several days. Customers are reminded to stay informed of BGE’s restoration efforts via www.bge.com, Twitter, Facebook and Flickr.
“BGE has proactively mobilized more than 3,800 people, including out-of-state resources to assist in the restoration effort,” said A. Christopher Burton, senior vice president of gas and electric operations and planning for BGE. “That said, we want to remind our customers that certain types of work, such as repairs requiring the use of bucket trucks, cannot be safely completed when the wind exceeds 25 miles per hour. Heavy rain, flooding and extensive tree debris will likely result in poor road conditions and delayed response. The safety of our employees and customers is our first priority at BGE We thank our customers in advance for their continued patience and understanding.”
The current track of Hurricane Irene has its peak impact on BGE’s service area from Saturday afternoon through early Sunday morning. Customers could begin to experience outages as early as Saturday afternoon and may experience multiple outages even after the storm has cleared the system on Sunday due to weakened trees and tree limbs that may fall onto power lines after the storm has left the area.
“Over the past week BGE has been very aggressive in communicating with our customers,” said Jeannette M. Mills, senior vice president and chief customer officer for BGE. “In addition to our normal communications through traditional local media, social media and BGE.com, each of our nearly 1.3 million customers received an automated telephone message strongly urging them to have a plan in place in advance of the storm’s arrival in Central Maryland. This call campaign was extremely successful with nearly 90 percent of all customers successfully receiving the call. We also tailored a specific message to customers identified in our system as having special needs, which includes customers who are elderly, physically challenged or dependent upon electricity for the use of medical equipment, reminding them how critically important it is for them to always have alternate arrangements in place in the event they experience extended power outages.”
In addition to visiting BGE’s online Storm Center for important information on how to prepare for an approaching storm, customers should always have basic items on hand in advance of a storm, including the following: Flashlights – not candles Fresh batteries Battery operated clock radio Corded telephone
Fully charged cell phone Non-perishable foods Blankets
Customers are always reminded to stay away from downed power lines and to report them immediately by calling 1-410-685-0123. Power outages should be reported by calling BGE’s automated system at 1-877-778-2222.
Customers also should consider filling the fuel tanks of their vehicles in the event a power outage affects service to neighborhood gas stations. For customers who rely on well water, filling a bathtub with water in advance of severe weather is strongly encouraged. Customers using generators should follow the manufacturers’ instructions and be sure to locate generators in well-ventilated areas.
BGE’s restoration priorities are public safety issues and critical facilities, such as 911 centers, hospitals and pumping stations. Then restoration is generally scheduled so that the greatest number of customers can be restored as quickly and as safely as possible. However, in cases of extended power outages, consideration is also given to customers who have been without service for the longest.
In addition to monitoring current and approaching weather conditions which could result in service interruptions, BGE regularly conducts emergency training drills during which all aspects of storm related service restoration are tested. BGE also reviews its Electric Delivery Emergency Response Plan to ensure that storm response procedures are up-to-date and in line with industry standards.
For more information about BGE storm preparation and how customers can protect their families and property, go to www.bge.com.