Jeannette Mills, Sr. VP and Chief Customer Officer
On Feb. 9, our gas pressure control crews opened the final valve on
the Southern Reinforcement natural gas pipeline (watch the video
), marking the completion of the 14-mile, underground pipeline and the end of seven months of construction.
The new pipeline runs between Clarksville and Laurel (map: http://bit.ly/pAR6C3
) and reinforces the southern portion of our gas distribution network—hence the name—that serves customers in parts of five counties. We regularly reinforce our approximately 7,000-mile pipeline network with projects like this to ensure that our system keeps pace with the energy needs of more than 650,000 natural gas customers who enjoy the benefits of clean, safe and reliable natural gas.
We extend our sincere thanks to communties along the
pipeline route for their support of this critical energy reliability and safety project. We greatly appreciate your continued patience and understanding during the construction. Throughout the project we were committed to keeping you updated
on our activities and progress, and your feedback has been important in helping to ensure the project met the needs and expectations of the community.
Although we completed construction, restoration work continues along the pipeline route and BGE will continue to clean-up, seed and stabilize the construction corridor. We will maintain all remaining, temporary erosion control barriers until regulatory inspections determine they can be removed and we will monitor the establishment of new growth in the construction zone. (See images of the installation process on our flickr
site or click the image below.)
Beyond the final clean-up and restoration work, we will operate the pipeline with our strong commitment to the protection and safety of the general public and our employees. In addition to the extensive safety measures implemented in design and construction, we will maintain the pipeline through our gas integrity management program
. Ongoing inspection and maintenance includes leak surveying, cathodic protection tests, and pressure monitoring from our 24/7 control room. All of the natural gas in this pipeline and throughout our entire gas distribution network has an added odorant to make the gas detectable by scent.
Addtionally, the Southern Reinforcement pipeline will be included in our Dig Alert program which requires a BGE damage inspector to monitor any work near this pipeline and remain on standby at the job sites where there is work within 10 feet of the pipeline. You will also notice pipeline markers that have been installed to inform anyone in the vicinity that a pipeline facility is located underground. Excavators should never rely on the presence or absence of pipeline markers and should always call 811 before any digging anywhere. Our vegetation management program will also maintain a 50 foot corridor above the pipeline to keep it clear of woody vegetation so it can be regularly inspected and accessed by BGE.
As a reminder, you can report any emergencies to our customer contact center, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. If you smell the rotten egg odor of natural gas or recognize other signs of a leak, leave the premises immediately and call BGE from a safe location at 1.800.685.0123. You can also continue to contact the project team directly with any non-emergency matters at BGEpipeline@bge.com.
Once again, thank you for your ongoing interest in this important reliability project and for your continued patience as we worked to complete it.
David Conn, Director of Energy Assistance
For many of us, the crush of everyday life sometimes gets in the way of good intentions – especially when it comes to charitable giving. We learn about a cause that unquestionably deserves our support, but we occasionally fail to make it to our checkbook, write out the check, find an envelope and a stamp and put that gift in the mail.
That’s why BGE today introduces a convenient program that will help you turn your good intentions into action, without so much as one extra stamp’s worth of effort. The Dollar Donation Fund allows you to make small, regular donations to the Fuel Fund of Maryland to support their mission of providing emergency assistance for low-income families, and people in crisis, who cannot pay their gas, electric or oil bills, as well as assistance with wood, kerosene, and propane. Nearly 24,000 Central Maryland individuals received support from the Fuel Fund last year.
BGE’s customers have been incredibly generous in their support of the Fuel Fund. Thousands respond every year
when the familiar green and white Fuel Fund envelope arrives in their winter BGE bills. With Dollar Donation, BGE customers will be able to choose an amount to donate to the Fuel Fund – either $1, $2, $5 or $10 a month. BGE will add that amount to your bill and when you pay your bill in full we will forward your donation to the Fuel Fund. One hundred percent of your contribution will go directly to the Fuel Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. For additional information, visit the Fuel Fund website
All of your donations to the Fuel Fund will beare tax-deductible to the extent permissible by law, and the Fuel Fund will send you a summary of your donations for your records after the end of the year. You may stay enrolled for as long as you like, change your donation amount or withdraw from the program at any time.
To enroll in the Dollar Donation Fund, simply visit bge.com/dollardonation
. If you can spare a dollar – or a greater amount – each month to help your neighbors in need, consider enrolling in Dollar Donation today and turn your good intentions into good works.
We all love a good bargain, especially when it comes to high-ticket items. Those waiting to purchase a new ENERGY STAR® appliance are in luck. Maryland will eliminate sales tax on many qualified ENERGY STAR® home appliances from February 18-20 during Shop Maryland Energy weekend
In addition to the six percent tax exemption, BGE customers who purchase a qualified ENERGY STAR® appliance are also eligible for a BGE Smart Energy Savers Program®
appliance rebate. If the tax-free purchase and rebates aren’t enough of an incentive, customers should also consider the long-term energy savings they will see over the lifespan of the appliance. For example, did you know that the average U.S. family washes almost 400 loads of laundry each year? An ENERGY STAR® qualified clothes washer can save you $386 on average in energy and water over its lifetime by cutting energy costs by more than a third and water costs by more than half.
The following ENERGY STAR® appliances will be tax free February 18-20, 2012:
- Air conditioners
- Clothes washers
- Compact fluorescent light bulbs
- Heat pumps
- Programmable thermostats
- Solar water heaters (tax-exempt at all times now)
So if you’re in the market for a new appliance, consider purchasing ENERGYSTAR® this weekend and save energy and money.
Here’s to Energy-Efficiency Savings.
Jeannette Mills, Sr. VP and Chief Customer Officer Although temperatures this weekend were pretty frigid, overall our winter season has been significantly warmer than normal. For BGE customers, this means that heating systems can typically run less than what was required of them last year, which translates into saving money. In fact, when you compare gas usage of Nov. 2010 to Jan. 2011 with Nov. 2011 to Jan. 2012, the typical household used almost 20 percent less natural gas for this winter season. If the warmer-than normal temperatures continue, it’s expected that the total gas cost of an average residential gas customer from Nov. 2011 to March 2012 will be approximately $486 – about $100 less than the cost for this same period a year ago.
In addition to the help of warmer weather, lower commodity prices for natural gas and electricity are also contributing to customer savings. BGE’s average commodity cost for natural gas is currently estimated to be 58 cents per therm this winter compared to 62 cents per therm last winter. Likewise, the average price for electricity this winter has decreased to 8.9 cents per kilowatt hour compared to approximately 10 cents per kilowatt hour last season. This reduction has helped to lower the expected total winter electric bill to approximately $1,040 from $1,240 – a savings of about $200.
While higher temperatures and falling energy prices are helping customers save money, customers can still take measures to increase energy efficiency and savings in their own homes. Simple steps such as sealing gaps with caulk and weather stripping, replacing furnace filters monthly and lowering the thermostat can put more dollars in your pocket. Customers can also join the more than 260,000 people who’ve opted to purchase natural gas and electricity fromthird-party suppliers that may offer lower prices than BGE’s Standard Offer Service.
This winter season appears to be working in favor of savings. To learn more on how you can maximize your saving opportunities, visit our Ways to Save section or our WinterReady
Until Next Time,
Jeannette Mills, Sr. VP and Chief Customer Officer
If you live in Maryland long enough, you will discover that our weather is capable of anything—from heat waves and blizzards to high humidity and hurricanes. Despite the overall mild winter we’ve had so far, it still makes sense to be prepared for severe weather—especially since Punxsutawney Phil, the weather predicting groundhog, recently announced that we will have another six weeks of winter.
Last year around this time a snow storm hit Maryland, causing outages for many customers. Our call center, linemen and support personnel worked tirelessly to keep customers informed and restore power as safely and as quickly as possible. Whether talking to customers by phone, in person, or online, the one thing we consistently hear is that the customers who were prepared for possible outages fared much better through the aftermath of the storm.
Just as BGE plans in advance for storms, we strongly encourage customers to prepare for severe weather and potential outages. For example, if you have family members with special needs
, such as depending upon a life support system or other medical devices, it’s important to have a battery backup system or portable generator on site, or make arrangements to relocate before the storm. And everyone should have a well-stocked and up-to-date storm safety kit.
While we all hope that storms (and resulting outages) pass us by, it’s always better to be ready… just in case. More storm safety tips can be found below or on our storm preparation page
Before a Storm
- For the latest weather forecast, call the Weatherline at 410.662.9225.
- Create and review a family emergency plan prior to a severe weather event.
- Be sure to make a contingency plan for any family members with special needs, including the elderly, handicapped or those dependent on electricity for medical equipment.
- Consider filling your vehicle’s fuel tank at your neighborhood gas station.
- If you rely on well water, consider filling a bathtub with water in advance of severe weather.
- Keep a storm safety kit handy and well-stocked. (add a list of suggested contents)
- Customers using generators should follow manufacturer instructions and be sure to locate generators in a well-ventilated area.
After a Storm
- If you lose service, notify BGE immediately at 1.877.778.2222. The number connects you to BGE’s Speech Activated Outage Reporting system. By entering the telephone number associated with your account, BGE is able to determine your location.
- Stay away from any downed power lines. Call BGE immediately at 1.800.685.0123 if you see any wires that are down. If a wire falls across your vehicle while you are inside, do not get out until emergency help arrives and they instruct you that it is safe to exit.
- Tune into local radio stations for safety and status reports.
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