Today I attended the first of nine roundtables to be held in Annapolis at the Miller Senate Office Building during a work day. These roundtables have been convened following Governor O'Malley's Executive Order to look into how to make Maryland's infrastructure more reliable and resilient. I must say my worst concerns have been realized: 13 roundtable participants; 25 people maximum in the audience (I counted three times).
If you welcome the public, why wouldn't you have roundtables around the state, and hold meetings largely after hours so that many citizens could attend? Why would you lead off by saying that no questions or comments would be taken from the audience? I hopefully asked one young man with a laptop, if he was with the press. Nope, he was with the governor's office. The lone photographer appeared to be a staff photographer capturing the roundtable for posterity.
The vast majority of the people at the table -- I will except Montgomery County Council Chairperson Roger Berliner who was there to represent the beleaguered citizens of Montgomery County in their reliability problems with Pepco, and his former law partner, John Jimison of Energy Future Coalition, a non-profit from Washington DC -- were connected in some way through their past employment at the PSC (which they joked about) or their current employment with either the PSC or other State Government entity, such as Maryland Energy Administration. Yep, this is Maryland Government, which brought us the current reliability mess, convening to study how to fix it.
Mr. Berliner did tell one interesting story comparing Germany to Maryland in terms of tree canopy, and indicating that Germany had a bad year with a whopping 9 minutes -- not 9 days or 9 hours -- of outage. This tracks with my memories; I don't recall a single outage the whole time I lived there for 5 years. The winds blew over the alps, the snow fell, and there was skiing on the mountaintops until June but the lights never waivered. Why aren't we talking with the best of the best nationwide and worldwide? Why is MD State Government talking to itself?
Please take a look at http://www.discussion.maryland.gov/ for a list of the 9 roundtables and the subject matter for each. Please watch the streamed video and review the powerpoint slides (when they're available on the site, as was promised today); it's your only chance to have your say.