State utility regulators drafted a set of policies July 7 that would require electricity providers to scan public areas around the state for stray electricity.

The Maryland Public Service Commission, during a day-long rule making session, mulled over “The Deanna Camille Green Rule,” which was proposed by the parents of the 14-year-old electrocuted in Druid Hill Park five years ago.

The regulations would require the state’s utility companies to regularly survey service areas for contact voltage, stray electricity that occurs when faulty electrical units energize commonly accessible surfaces. It’s what killed Deanna when she touched two fences in 2006.

After the meeting, the Green’s said they were “98 percent satisfied” with the session’s outcome.

“It really turned out well,” said Anthony “Bubba” Green, Deanna’s father. “The utilities don’t want to be told what to do and what we did was make them take responsibility.”

But after taking a second look at the regulations several days later, Green and his wife Nancy realized some aspects of their proposal slipped through the cracks, including a requirement that utilities use mobile trucks to scan—a method many experts consider more efficient and wide-ranging than manual devices.

The Green’s also fear the regulations give utilities too much flexibility to choose which neighborhoods to scan.

“They already don’t want to check the poor, Black neighborhoods,” Green said.

A spokeswoman for BGE said the utility has scanned sections of Baltimore for contact voltage twice since last year. Officials would not e-mail the AFRO a map of the scanned areas, saying they feared it “would be too difficult to understand.” They said over the phone that their first test concentrated on the Inner Harbor and central business district, and the second rechecked the area that will host the Grand Prix and touched on the rest of the city.

The commission’s draft regulations, now posted to the commission’s website, would allow utilities to determine the frequency and scope of their scans, although the commission would have the right to order adjustments.

Utility companies would have to submit annual compliance reports and prove they made efforts to immediately repair areas emitting over one volt of electricity. Higher populated cities would also require more frequent scans.

BGE officials bucked at the requirement to survey electrical systems throughout the entire city, not just those they own or operate.

“This was a start but we still have work to do,” Green said. “I think last week, we were overwhelmed by what took place and were just happy these regulations were on the table and they were saying Deanna’s name.”

The rules must go before a legislative committee and survive an open commenting period before they can be finalized. That could take at least 18 months.

Once approved, utilities would have 90 days to commence their next inspection.


Shernay Williams

Special to the AFRO