Marriah Barnett, Manager Project Management
It’s been a great Women’s History Month – an opportunity to recognize and celebrate female leaders and women who have made a positive impact on our lives and communities.
We celebrated this year’s theme “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives” with our parent company Exelon’s employee resource group, Network for Exelon Women (NEW). The theme brings to light women who are critically important because they reveal exceptionally strong role models who share a more expansive vision of what a woman can do.
This theme echoes the long history that women at BGE have played and how their roles have evolved over time in the company and the community in which we live and work. Women have risen in leadership ranks and moved into positions that were primarily filled by men in the past. Integrating diversity, inclusion and acceptance makes BGE a stronger, better and smarter company. As a matter of fact the company has benefited from having both genders involved in decision making and providing leadership.
NEW continues to provide avenues for women leaders to share their stories, their career progression and to get involved in the community while inspiring our members in their career growth and mentoring peers. Throughout Women’s History Month, members and employees participated in events, including a culture competence webinar by Diversity, Inc., and a volunteer event focused on career and college readiness for students.
Personally, I have benefited from many strong role models within the company, both men and women, who challenged me to take on additional responsibility. They encouraged me to share my perspectives and give back to the community through volunteerism and mentoring. One of the things I like most about being a part of NEW, is the ability to provide those same opportunities and mentoring to others.
NEW offers career development and community involvement opportunities for all employees throughout the year.
Michael Davenport, Manager, Community Affairs
For many years, BGE has strived to build a legacy of trust and commitment with the communities we serve. Our community involvement is founded on listening to our customers’ concerns, providing education and building strong community relationships.
Our Community Affairs team works to increase customer awareness of BGE programs and services through strategic alliances, presentations, volunteerism and various forms of community involvement. Additionally we work directly with residential customers (both homeowners and renters), businesses, government agencies and schools, as well as faith, civic and community organizations. We also focus on partnering with agencies that assist limited income and special needs customers.
At BGE, we realize that strong collaborative partnerships with our community are critical to both the success of our business and satisfying our customers. To that end, we want to continue to work with you and extend our outreach to new audiences, because together we can do more.
We are eager to work with organizations to raise awareness of BGE’s programs and services that benefit our customers. In the effort to expand our network of partnerships, we continue to seek opportunities to connect with community organizations throughout our service territory. By partnering with our Community Affairs team, we can schedule a time to come to your location or plan to take part during your next event at no cost to you.
For more information about services offered by our Community Affairs team, please call 410-470-4103. Or, visit us on line at www.bge.com/ourcommitments.
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Darryl A. Stokes, Vice President, Electric Transmission & Substations
February is Black History Month (BHM) – an opportunity to celebrate African American history, to learn and raise added attention about culture and matters that speak to the communities in which we live and work.
Throughout this month, BGE employees joined employee resource group EAARA (Exelon African American Resource Alliance) in events, including a speaker series and panel discussions covering everything from professional development and the power of supplier diversity. Diversity is recognized and celebrated at BGE all year by supporting programs and organizations that promote diversity in our neighborhoods.
This year’s signature event included Career Development Insights from Susan L. Taylor: Nurturing Your Passion Along Your Career Pa
th. Susan L. Taylor is founder and chief executive officer of National CARES Mentoring Movement and Editor in Chief Emerita of Essence Magazine referred to as "the most influential black woman in journalism today" by American Libraries in 1994. Today she leads a mentoring program to better the youth in underrepre
sented communities and help prepare them for careers in the STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).
Other BHM inspired events include “Corporate America’s Responsibility in Community Engagement” featuring keynote speaker Roland Martin, Host/Managing Editor of TV One’s daily morning show, News One Now, Senior Analyst, Tom Joyner Morning Show, Author, International Speaker and CEO, Nu Vision Media.
In addition, BGE is a proud sponsor of Baltimore Concert Opera presents “Th
is Little Light of Mine,” This one-woman musical tribute honors the careers of two African-American opera legends: Marian Anderson and Leontyne Price. Anderson became the first African-American singer to perform at The Metropolitan Opera House and Price would take that torch and carry it to The Metropolitan Opera and the most prestigious opera houses around the world.
BHM is a time for us to celebrate the achievements of African-Americans and an opportunity to recognize those who have shaped the past and those who are continuing to shape the future.
William T. Rees, Jr., Senior Business Analyst, Vegetation Management Unit
BGE actively works to maintain the trees surrounding our more than 10,500 miles of overhead power lines. This is an effort that requires us to balance our stakeholders’ desire to have healthy trees in their neighborhoods with our commitment to delivering safe and reliable power.
A new challenge has recently surfaced in Maryland – the Emerald Ash Borer. This aggressive wood boring beetle attacks ash trees in its introduced range and causes their destruction within three years. While the insect is still getting established in BGE’s service territory, it is imperative that we act now to prevent it from becoming a threat to our ability to reliably deliver electricity.
The way this beetle kills Ash trees leaves them unsafe to climb which necessitates cranes and other specialty equipment to remove the trees. In addition, if they are not removed, the dead trees tend to uproot or break low at the stem instead of breaking into pieces like most dead trees, which would cause an additional threat to the electric grid.
We are currently in a small four to five year window between the beetle’s emergence and the point which the trees are too damaged to take any mitigating actions. BGE is in the process of evaluating the risk that the Emerald Ash Borer poses to the electric system. Once it has completed its evaluation, we will develop a course of action to appropriately respond to any threat posed by the Emerald Ash Borer, which will include consulting with relevant external stakeholders.
With close to two million ash trees in BGE’s service territory, residents and other land owners are also at risk from damaged and dead trees. It’s important to note that some Ash trees can be saved by the use of certain insecticides if they are treated proactively. For more information on which trees should be treated and how, click here.
See National Geographic article to learn more about the threat posed by the Emerald Ash Borer.
Bob Oberle, Sr. Community Relations Specialist
Several weeks ago, a local television station broadcast a piece about Smithfield Foods delivering a truck with 15 tons of pork inside to the Maryland Food Bank in Halethorpe. This shipment of fresh meat was certainly appreciated as it supplements the tons of donated canned goods, household products and other packaged food delivered to the Food Bank’s loading dock on a regular basis. The television report ended with a plea for help from a food bank employee who stated that while the warehouse was bursting at the seams with donated items, there was a need for volunteers to help sort and pack.
Last week, members of BGE’s Community Affairs team and other BGE employees spent a shift at the warehouse, sorting and packaging food for further distribution throughout the community. The entire operation at the Maryland Food Bank, from receiving to sorting and packing, to further distribution is quite impressive. But this is accompanied by the sobering thought that there are so many hungry people in our state.
Last year, in 2014 the Maryland Food Bank distributed nearly 37 million meals to families in need. This includes not just the homeless, but also children, seniors and even individuals who are working full-time, but still struggling to put food on the table.
BGE employees had the privilege of volunteering almost 26,000 hours in 2014 to a variety of good causes in the community. These include serving meals at soup kitchens, mentoring, and participating in environmental activities. But I always consider the time we spend at the food bank time well spent.
Melissa Cheek, Corporate Social Responsibility Specialist
Serving the community is an integral part of BGE’s core values. With the help of our employees, we contribute our time and resources year round toward initiatives that make our communities better places to live and work.
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service many of our employees take advantage of opportunities to honor Dr. King’s legacy – providing service to help meet the needs of our communities and build stronger, more impactful relationships with our customers.
This year, some of the projects BGE volunteers supported in honor of Dr. King included a community clean up in partnership with The Sixth Branch. Volunteers also assisted Art with a Heart, a nonprofit organization who makes it their mission to bring positive images and inspirational works of art to underserved members of the Baltimore community.
As well as prepare materials for re-sale, create displays and inventory the warehouse with The Loading Dock. The Loading Dock is a nonprofit dedicated to repurposing and reusing architectural pieces from home sites and remodels.
We hope you were equally inspired to serve within your community. As Dr. King once said, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?' To those that decided to contribute efforts toward community causes in recognition of Dr. King, we say thank you and we encourage everyone to continue making a difference in your community.
Ammanuel Moore, Economic Development Manager
The Maryland Economic Development Association’s (MEDA) Annual Winter Conference recently convened hundreds of stakeholders to discuss Maryland’s future and identify strategies that support the state’s effort to attract, retain and grow its economy. Unified by the theme of “Economic Development Transforms Lives,” leaders such as newly-elected governor Larry Hogan shared thoughts on how to increase Maryland’s competitiveness both
regionally and globally. Ideas included strengthening public and private partnerships, developing a business environment that will help attract, retain and grow businesses, advancing education to prepare students for the 21st century
workforce, and investing in resources like the Chesapeake Bay to draw new residents to the area.
As Maryland’s largest utility, we are committed to supporting Maryland’s economy and we’re proud that we already actively pursue many of the ideas discussed at the conference. Numerous customers see their utility as simply managers of pipes or wires to deliver energy, but we view our work as also a vital component of Maryland’s prosperity. In fact, we operate in a way that helps businesses choose Maryland as their business location or place to expand their operations – which creates jobs and economic opportunity. This isn’t just talk, either: a 2014 Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore economic impact study showed that BGE generated more than $3.8 billion in output for the state of Maryland through our general operations, energy management programs and charitable contributions.
So why does BGE – or any business – care about boosting the state’s economy? We recognize that we are completely reliant on each other. Without a strong economy, businesses and households find it difficult to meet their needs, be productive and support not only Maryland’s overall well-being, but its ability to grow. This is why our economic development initiatives support chambers of commerce, workforce partnerships and economic development groups like MEDA in their work to increase opportunity and “transform lives.”
It’s clear that Maryland has vast potential as a center for economic opportunity due to its proximity to Washington, D.C. and the 95 corridor, highly-ranked colleges and universities, the Port of Baltimore and many other assets. As ideas on Maryland’s future were shared and debated, it was also noted that every stakeholder – whether a business owner or employee, a legislator or voter – must participate in order for Maryland to take advantage of those assets and succeed.
It is BGE’s commitment to continue working with our partners and customers to help Maryland reach its potential.
Rob Biagiotti, Vice President, Customer Operations
This time of year, when the winter chill has set in, the warmth and comfort that natural gas brings our customers is clear. It is the fuel that warms furnaces, lights gas fireplaces and bakes holiday treats.
As important as this energy source is, you may not think about natural gas often or the extensive network of buried pipes that deliver the gas where and when it is needed. It is invisible in more ways than one. In fact, if we didn’t add mercaptan odorant to naturally odorless gas, you wouldn’t be able to smell it. Giving natural gas its unpleasant, rotten egg odor is one of the most basic ways we help make it safe.
Everyone needs to understand natural gas safety, even people who don’t have gas service. We especially need to teach children how to recognize and react to escaping gas. That is why we created Captain Mercaptan (SM), a natural gas safety hero.
Actually, we just gave Captain Mercaptan a name. It was children who decided on the appearance of our superhero through a contest this year. Elementary school (grades K-5) students were asked to provide a description and drawings of Captain Mercaptan for a chance to win funding for a school enrichment project. Top entries from each grade level (K-5) received $5,000 to use for a school enrichment project, and the overall highest rated entry received an additional $5,000.
In the end, we received 67 entries and there were six winners with one school in Gambrills, School of the Incarnation, taking two awards, including the $10,000 grand prize. They used the school enrichment funds to create a fantastic new music room used by all of the students.
Like any superhero, Captain Mercaptan is now featured in ads, stickers, scratch-n-sniff cards and promotional items to help spread the message.
Now that we know who Captain Mercaptan is and what he looks like, we are eager to see what he does next. Stay tuned in early 2015 when we launch The Adventures of Captain Mercaptan contest. Be on the lookout for new, super adventures and a few sidekicks to join Captain Mercaptan’s team. For more details about the contest, visit BGEgashero.com
In the meantime, make sure the kids in your life understand how to be safe around natural gas, and help spread the word to elementary school teachers and administrators and PTA leaders about this great opportunity in 2015.
Bob Oberle, Principal Community Relations Specialist
Turn off the lights! It’s probably something said by parents to their children since the light bulb was invented, but how much energy do lights actually use? In the average household, lighting accounts for about five to ten percent of our total energy use-- on average, about $50 to $150 annually. This is only a small portion of the energy used by our heating and cooling equipment, which can account up to 50 percent of our annual energy requirements. And yet, it is still prudent not to waste energy. With a little discipline and slight behavioral changes, we can save some money, and have the satisfaction of reducing our own carbon footprint.
Most of us by now are using, or have at least heard of our new lighting choices: compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or light emitting diodes (LEDs). Traditional incandescent bulbs have always used a lot of energy to produce light, with 90 percent of that energy given off as heat. That lost energy is not cost efficient! Quality ENERGY STAR certified CFLs typically last ten times longer and use about one-fourth the energy of incandescent bulbs.
Use ENERGY STAR certified CFL bulbs in places where you will have the light on for at least 15 minutes at a time. Frequently turning a CFL on and off will shorten its lifetime. Because outdoor lights are usually left on a long time, using CFLs or LEDS in these fixtures will save a lot of energy. Most bare spiral CFLs can be used outside if in enclosed fixtures that protects them from the weather.
The spiral shape CFL bulb is familiar to all of us, but with more recent improvements in technology, CFLs now also come with dimmable, three-way, candelabra, or globe bulbs. Home improvement stores now carry a large variety, but make sure you read the packaging or ask an associate for advice, as not all are designed to work in every socket. For example, many photocells and timers are not designed to work with CFLs. And if you have a ceiling fan or candelabra which is hooked up to a dimmer switch, make sure you only use dimmable bulbs.
Rebates of up to $2.25 are available instantly on CFLs at most stores, as the discount is already included in the purchase price. Or better yet, sign up for a Quick Home Energy Check-up, or the more comprehensive Home Performance with Energy Star energy audit, and receive up to 12 CFLs and other energy saving measures at no additional charge. To learn more and find out how to receive rebates, visit the BGE Smart Energy Savers Page
Happy Holidays and Be Safe!
Chanel Rhoads-Reed, Senior Community Relations Specialist
The Community Affairs team is committed to the communities we serve. Throughout the year the team engages in at least one volunteer outreach effort each month. Whether it’s digging a ditch (literally), laying mulch, packing food at a food bank, or painting a school, no task is ever too small or too big for our team.
Volunteering in the community brings me great joy knowing I am helping others. There is no greater reward than giving back.
The team has volunteered at several Maryland based organizations including Real Food Farm with Civic Works. Real Food Farm is Civic Works’ innovative urban agricultural enterprise engaged in growing fresh produce on six acres of land in Clifton Park located in Northeast Baltimore. The organization provides neighborhood access to healthy food, supports local agriculture, organizes hands-on education opportunities for Baltimore students and protects the environment with sustainable farming methods.
This past summer, the team rolled up their sleeves in 90 degree weather to help pack and load over 10,000 pounds of food at the Harford Community Action Agency (HCAA) to be delivered to various agencies that provide food to those in need. HCAA is the designated Community Action Agency that provides programs and services to address the needs of low-income individuals, families and communities in Harford County, MD.
One of the most rewarding volunteer efforts that the team participated in was the 3rd Annual Baer-Athlon at William S. Baer School. The team supported special needs athletes as they completed a walking lap, a biking lap, and a lap around the sprinklers for the Baer-Athon challenge! They offered assistance to the athletes during the races and cheered them on from the sidelines.
Team members make a conscience effort to put aside time from their busy work schedules to make a difference in the community. In addition to the volunteer initiatives, several employees from the Community Affairs team are board members of various Maryland based non-profit organizations. We believe the best way to serve is to be present in the community and lend a helping hand where we can.
For more information on BGE’s commitment to employee volunteers and charitable giving visit www.bge.com/ourcommitments
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