BALTIMORE — The Maryland Public Service Commission says electric utilities need to “harden” distribution systems to improve reliability following last summer’s derecho, in which nearly 1 million customers lost power.

In a decision released Wednesday, it noted a “significant and unsatisfactory disconnect” between the public’s expectations of how reliable the system should be and the ability of the system to meet those expectations.

The commission also says utilities must be more responsive to outages that occur after severe storms. And it says the companies must improve communications, review staffing levels and develop strategies to address the needs of the medically fragile and the elderly.

The late June storm brought powerful straight-line winds to the state from the Midwest. Trees and tree limbs pulled down overhead power lines.

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