In the wake of last month’s storm that knocked out power for hundreds of thousands and prompted widespread outrage, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) on Wednesday announced a work group that will explore ways to “strengthen Maryland’s utility infrastructure and create a more resilient electric distribution system.”
O’Malley, who created the group by executive order, gave it 60 days to recommend legislative changes, regulatory reforms and other executive branch actions. O’Malley said the group would draw upon several government agencies and experts around the state for input and advice. Among the issues that will be explored is the feasibility of putting more supply and distribution lines underground in selected areas.
“As a result of climate change, Maryland may continue to suffer violent weather patterns in the months and years ahead,” O’Malley said in a statement. “That’s why we must engage in a thoughtful and informed dialogue to strengthen the resiliency of our electric grid.”
The order came less than a week after Maryland regulators rejected the bulk of a rate increase sought by Pepco — the second time in seven months that state officials slapped the utility for chronic poor performance.