On July 25, 2012, Executive Order 01.01.2012.15 directed the Energy Advisor, in collaboration with identified agencies, including MEA, to solicit input and recommendations from experts on how to improve the resiliency and reliability of the Maryland electric distribution system. Referencing the potential impact of climate change on regional weather patterns and the prolonged power outages brought by recent hurricanes, blizzards, and the derecho, the Executive Order specifically charged the Task Force with evaluating:
- The effectiveness and feasibility of undergrounding supply and distribution lines;
- Other options for infrastructure investments to improve resiliency of the grid; and
- Options for financing and cost recovery for capital investment.
Over 60 days, the Task Force assembled eight roundtable discussions that included almost 50 experts from around the country, created an Electric Feedback Forum website to share information and solicit feedback from the public, analyzed copious data received from the utilities about outage information and staffing levels, synthesized the statutory and regulatory framework in which this conversation takes place, developed 11 recommendations, and drafted a comprehensive report, "Grid Resiliency Task Force: Weathering the Storm."
As one component of its report, the Task Force developed interactive maps of both the Pepco and BGE service territories. The maps display the location of each distribution utility's inoperable substations and distribution lines after two or three previous major storms, namely "Snowmageddon," Hurricane Irene, and the derecho. Generally speaking, areas displayed in orange and red are the neighborhoods where the citizens, on average, have been most affected by frequency of outages.
Recommendations of the Task Force
The following list is a set of specific technology, infrastructure, regulatory, and process recommendations to improve the resiliency of Maryland's distribution grid. They are covered in more detail in the full report:
- Improve RM43's Reliability and Reporting Requirements
- Accelerate RM43's March Toward Reliability
- Allow a Tracker Cost Recovery Mechanism for Accelerated and Incremental Investments
- Implement a Ratemaking Structure that Aligns Customer and Utility Incentives by Rewarding Reliability that Exceeds Established Reliability Metrics and Penalizes Failure to Reach Those Metrics
- Perform Joint Exercises Between the State and Utilities
- Facilitate Information Sharing Between Utilities, State Agencies and Emergency Management Agencies
- Increase Citizen Participation In List of Special Needs Customers and Share Information with Emergency Management Agencies
- Evaluate State-Wide Vegetation Management Regulations and Practices beyond RM43
- Determine Cost-Effective Level of Investment in Resiliency
- Study Staffing Pressures Due to Graying of Workforce
- Task the Energy Future Coalition with Developing a Pilot Proposal
Monitoring the Task Force
MEA is monitoring the actions of responsible parties to track and assist with the recommendations of the Grid Resiliency Task Force. The following table summarizes some of the latest developments.
|Task Force Recommendations
|Improve RM43’s reliability and reporting requirements
||Maryland Energy Administration, Public Service Commission, PHI Holdings, Inc.
- The Maryland Energy Administration submitted the Governor’s Task Force Report to the Public Service Commission on October 3, 2012.
- During November 2012, Pepco submitted a request for ratemaking with the Public Service Commission. The request largely mirrors the Task Force’s recommendations, including: (1) accelerating RM43’s reliability and tree trimming standards; (2) allowing recovery for accelerated and incremental investments; and (3) adopting performance based ratemaking.
- MEA has intervened in the proceeding.
|Accelerate RM43’s march toward reliability
|Allow a tracker cost recovery mechanism
|Implement a performance based ratemaking structure that aligns customer and utility incentives by rewarding reliability that exceeds established reliability metrics and penalizes failure to reach those metrics
|Perform joint exercises between the state and utilities
||Maryland Emergency Management Agency, University of Maryland Center for Health & Homeland Security, Maryland Energy Administration
||The Maryland Emergency Management Agency is currently working with State entities and utilities to develop a Business Operations Center for coordinated disaster response activities.
|Facilitate information sharing between utilities, state agencies, and emergency management agencies
|Increase citizen participation in list of special needs customers and share information with emergency management agencies
||Maryland Emergency Management Agency, BGE, Potomac Edison, PEPCO, Delmarva, SMECO
- In anticipation of Hurricane Sandy, on October 26, 2012, BGE filed with the Public Service Commission a request to disclose to government officials data on special needs customers and outage information.
- The PSC granted the request on October 30, 2012, allowing information sharing between the State’s major utilities and State emergency officials.
|Evaluate state-wide vegetation management regulations and practices beyond RM43
||MEA, Maryland Office of the Attorney General
||MEA’s legal team has convened a task force to review Maryland’s vegetation management laws and regulations.
|Determine cost-effective level of investment in resiliency
MEA, Public Service Commission
|The Maryland Public Service will likely address this issue while it considers Pepco’s recent request for ratemaking.
|Study staffing pressures due to graying of workforce
- MEA has partnered with the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board, the Department of Business and Economic Development, the Power Plant Research Program, the Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation and other stakeholders to collaborate on energy workforce training and development for the State. Meeting on a quarterly basis, the Training for the Future working group invites expert panelists to MEA’s headquarters in Annapolis to participate in roundtable discussions focusing on energy training and related topics.
- In September, the working group hosted hiring managers from PEPCO and BGE to discuss the greying workforce in utility maintenance and proactive measures that the State and educational partners can do to prepare the next generation of lines crews, IT security and other specialists for high paying jobs in the field. As a result of these programs, both Chesapeake College and the College of Southern Maryland are developing new curricula to prepare students for these positions, focusing on primer courses in basic math and other fundamental skills that will prime Marylanders for admissions tests for utility training programs.
|Task the Energy Future Coalition with development a pilot proposal
||Energy Future Coalition
||The Energy Future Coalition is currently drafting a “Utility 2.0” pilot proposal. For more information, please see Energy Future Coalition.
||MEA is requesting $1.7 million in capital funds for FY2014 to sponsor energy backup generation for critical infrastructure with a preference for clean energy projects
For more information, contact David Beugelmans by e-mail at Kristen.Ahearn@maryland.gov or by phone at (410) 260-7655.