Friday, July 3, 2009

Man vs Nature - The Bowie Electrical Grid

Scenes like the following are fairly common in the Levitt sections of Bowie this summer as Baltimore, Gas & Electric makes progress on the Bowie Electric Reliability Action Plan (BERAP). I spotted 10 or more trucks on a recent morning drive through the Somerset section.

The current project was preceded by a tree trimming pilot program in the Meadowbrook and Chapel Forge neighborhoods. The intent of the pilot program was to determine how tree trimming alone could address the frequent power outages that Bowie residents experience.

The BERAP extends tree trimming efforts to additional Bowie neighborhoods, and the program also includes upgrades to transformers, cables and poles. Some poles are being replaced, and the location of some poles are being changed.

The Leavitt sections of Bowie create a challenge for BGE because the utility poles are located in residents' yards - often in close proximity to houses. Although BGE has criteria for which trees, branches and shrubs must go, the residents' criteria is often different. Some residents are also finding new poles and support cables in their yards where there weren't any before.

At a high level, the goals of BGE and the residents of Bowie are the same: greater reliability and reduced outages. When it comes to lower level decisions, I've heard complaints about a favorite tree that was cut down or about a new support cable ruining the appearance of a yard. Unfortunately, those are the sort of trade-offs that are going to have to be made.

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