SOURCE: Deanna Camille Green Foundation

Deanna Camille Green Foundation

March 26, 2012 10:18 ET

Parents of Deanna Green Decry Maryland House of Delegates' Actions Regarding Bill Named After Their Late Daughter

House Subcommittee Voted Tuesday to Strip Bill of Any Real Substance

ANNAPOLIS, MD--(Marketwire - Mar 26, 2012) - Anthony and Nancy Green have demanded that their daughter's name be removed from Maryland House Bill 520, saying they will not allow the utilities, the Maryland Public Service Commission and the Maryland House of Delegates to use their deceased daughter's name to give the public a false sense of safety and placate the interests of utility companies like BGE and PEPCO.

The Deanna Camille Green Act of 2012 was gutted and stripped under the pretext of committee amendments in a House of Delegates Subcommittee Tuesday afternoon, rendering it essentially inconsequential.

As introduced, the bill would have required utility companies throughout Maryland to detect and repair their own faulty equipment which could cause lethal electrical leaks in public rights-of-way across the State, such as the leak that led to the fatal electrocution of 14-year-old Deanna Green in 2006. The method of testing required under the bill has uncovered more than 1000 dangerous voltage leaks electrifying sidewalks, fences, and other everyday objects across Maryland. As "amended," the bill is void of all utility testing requirements and public protections. It simply commissions a study of contact voltage in Maryland and the technology available to detect it.

"The utilities must provide adequate maintenance of their infrastructure so that public safety in ensured. We've studied this issue enough," said Mr. Green in response to the House subcommittee amendments. "We grant the utilities the privilege to operate their electric systems beneath our public streets and sidewalks. They must be held accountable."

At the House of Delegates' Committee hearing on the bill, Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) Chairman Douglas Nazarian, whose term there is nearing an end, offered extensive comments to the House Committee expressing his displeasure with it. Neither he nor the utility companies serving Maryland dispute the existence of the danger of contact voltage hazards in the state and Nazarian's testimony explicitly acknowledged that it is BGE's current standard practice to test all publicly accessible conductive surfaces within Baltimore City. Yet his comments were largely critical of the bill, based upon a purported lack of competition as well as minimal additional costs resulting from the testing required.

He began his lengthy testimony by erroneously stating that there is one company able to provide the contact voltage detection technology mandated by the bill as introduced. In reality, there are multiple vendors capable of providing voltage leak testing, which is being performed successfully by utilities in more than 40 cities across the United States. Earlier this month, PEPCO commenced the organization of a competitive demonstration of the various technologies and vendors capable of performing these tests and sent out an email solicitation seeking vendor participation.

"I believe Mr. Nazarian is overestimating the costs of necessary testing and weighing cost against public safety," Mr. Green said. "The tragedy that struck our family will happen again. Mr. Nazarian and the dozens of utility lobbyists who are opposing this bill will have additional families to answer to."

While the lobbyists' efforts appear to have been successful in the House, the Greens and their hundreds of supporters remain hopeful the Senate will not be swayed by the utilities' propaganda.

"As citizens, we're granted the privilege to operate motor vehicles. If we fail to adequately maintain them, the privilege is taken away from us in order to ensure safety on our streets and highways. It's no different here," stated Nancy Green. "We grant the utilities the privilege to operate their electric systems beneath our public streets and sidewalks. If the utilities are unwilling to adequately maintain their electric systems to ensure pedestrian safety, they must be required to or risk losing the privilege to operate their equipment in our communities."

She and her husband are counting on the Maryland Senate to agree.

Deanna's Lyric Foundation was founded to honor the memory of Deanna Camille Green, who was fatally electrocuted on May 5, 2006 when she touched a fence energized by electricity stemming from a faulty underground wire while playing softball at Baltimore's Druid Hill Park. Since her death, Deanna's parents Anthony and Nancy Green have worked tirelessly toward the passage of legislation nationwide to protect against the invisible danger that is contact voltage.

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