Governor Martin O'Malley today issued an Executive Order directing the Administration's Energy Advisor, Abigail Hopper, to mobilize several key government agencies to solicit input and recommendations from experts throughout the State to improve and strengthen Maryland's utility infrastructure and create a more resilient electric distribution system.
"As a result of climate change, Maryland may continue to suffer violent weather patterns in the months and years ahead. That's why we must engage in a thoughtful and informed dialogue to strengthen the resiliency of our electric grid," said GovernorO'Malley. "Together, we can create the 21st century infrastructure that a 21st century economy requires -- these costs and benefits must be evaluated."
Citing the economic and health damage resulting from repeated and prolonged electricity outages, and pointing to projections of more violent weather to come, the Executive Order sets in place an important evaluative process for the following:
1) The effectiveness and feasibility of undergrounding supply and distribution lines in selected areas as a means to increase the resiliency of Maryland's electric distribution system;
2) Options for other infrastructure investments in the electric distribution infrastructure that can or should be made in order to improve the resiliency of Maryland's electric distribution system. The costs and benefits of such investments should be evaluated over various time periods, including a 30-year period; and
3) Options for financing and cost recovery for capital investments to the electric distribution system.
The group is tasked with reporting back to the Governor within 60 days regarding recommended legislative changes, regulatory reforms, and other executive branch actions.
"I am pleased that we will have an opportunity to broaden the conversation around our infrastructure investments to create a more sustainable grid for Maryland," said Abigail Hopper. "I look forward to conducting numerous roundtable discussions over the next few months."
The work being done internally will not supplant the investigation currently underway by the Public Service Commission; rather, the Governor's efforts will be forward-looking and could lead to recommendations for further investigation and analysis by the Commission.