At Dominion Virginia, which serves Northern Virginia, spokeswoman Le-Ha Anderson said restoration took less time than after hurricanes Isabel and Irene.
“We think we had a good response to the June 29 event, given that this storm didn’t allow us the preparation time that a hurricane would,” Anderson said. “That said, we still had customers out of power for a week. We’re still looking at our response and seeing what we could have done better.”
BGE spokesman Rob Gould said that improvements in how crews are dispatched also seem to have reduced how long teams idled between assignments and paid off for BGE’s restoration. In this storm and in Hurricane Irene, Gould said, the utility had about the same number of outages and restored power both times in just over eight days. But after the derecho, BGE hit that mark using 4,700 workers, fewer than the 6,300 who worked during Irene.
Estimates of the cost of restoring power to more than 1 million customers begin in the millions of dollars, but definite figures will have to wait for the compilation of official storm reports.
Pepco has three weeks to file a comprehensive accounting with public service commissions in the District and Maryland. The reports will detail how many homes lost power and for how long, as well as how many repair crews responded from out of state. They will assess the company’s accuracy in forecasting when the lights would flicker back on in particular neighborhoods after hundreds of trees came down, wreaking havoc on power lines.
District regulators have announced that they will hold a hearing at which Pepco executives will describe their storm preparation and performance. Maryland officials are expected to hold a similar session, though no date has been announced.
Whether Pepco is determined to have reacted well or poorly will not directly affect rate-increase requests pending in the District and Maryland. There will, however, be an indirect effect. Pepco last week requested a week delay in a decision on a 4 percent rate increase it has requested for its Maryland customers, saying it needed more time to focus on repairing storm damage.
In the long term, however, widespread damage to the electrical grid could cost consumers.
In Maryland and the District, Pepco may seek to recoup its losses in future rate increase cases. Those charges are often spread over a number of years, said Terri Czarski, the deputy people’s counsel for Maryland.In the past, the company and consumer advocates have disagreed at times over which costs are reasonable to pass along to customers, and over how long customers should have to pay, she said.