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Maryland Power Plants and the Environment (CEIR-18)

3.3.4 State Distribution System and Reliability Planning

Following several incidents of storms and outages in Maryland during 2010 and 2011, the PSC initiated Rulemaking 43 (RM43) to consider revisions to State regulations in regard to electric company reliability and service quality standards, “including, but not limited to: service interruption, downed wire repair and service quality standards; vegetation management standards; annual reliability reporting; and the availability of penalties for failure to meet the standards.” On April 17, 2012, the new regulations were adopted including the following:

Utilities must submit an annual report outlining their performance with respect to these regulations. In addition, the utilities are required to have a Major Outage Event Plan on file with the PSC providing a description of and procedures for its response to major events, as well as performance measures associated with the assessment of the implementation of the Major Outage Event Plan.

Being able to detect outages during storms or during normal operations has been a challenge for utilities. Historically, utilities have relied on customers to report local outages. With the advent of new technologies, being able to “see” conditions on the distribution grid in real-time is becoming a reality. Maryland utilities with PSC-approved advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) plans have either finished installing or are in the process of installing AMI in their respective service territories. While AMI allows for electronic reading of customer meter information, the communication network created by the advanced meters also serves to provide much needed information on the current status of the distribution grid. (For more information on AMI and smart grid capability, see Section 5.5.3.)

Click to OpenThe 2012 DerechoDamage from severe storms can be extensive and costly to repair. Some jurisdictions utilize a rider to fund storm-related repairs. In Maryland, the costs of storm repairs are included in the utility’s overall revenue requirement which determines a utility’s rates as approved by the PSC. In BGE’s 2011 annual report submitted in its last rate case filed in July 2012, the utility noted that incidental costs associated with Hurricane Irene totaled $41.1 million. In a PSC March 2011 rate order, BGE was authorized to defer, as a regulatory asset, $15.8 million in storm costs incurred during the winter storms that took place in February 2010. These costs are being amortized over a five-year period that began in December 2010.

On December 2, 2015, the PSC adopted proposed regulations regarding the reliability and service quality standards. The proposed regulations established numerical reliability standards in terms of allowable number of outage minutes for calendar years 2016 through 2019.

Maryland Public Service Commission Mail Log No. 179783.

2012 Derecho Timeline through Radar Imagery

On June 29, 2012, a major storm system known as a derecho (“deh-REY-cho”) formed and moved across Illinois through the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic states, travelling roughly 600 miles in about 10 hours. During the event, the National Weather Service received over 800 preliminary thunderstorm wind reports with peak wind gusts ranging from 80-100 miles per hour. The morning after the event, electric utilities, rural electric cooperatives, and municipalities reported approximately 4.2 million customers without power across 11 states and the District of Columbia. In Maryland, the total number of customers without power reached 899,171, accounting for about one-third of all customers in Maryland.

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Source: National Weather Service, https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d7/6-29-2012_Derecho.jpg