Ingrid D. Woods, Sr. Community Relations Specialist
Maryland’s population consisted of nearly 6 million residents last year according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. Of that number, nearly 14 percent of them were over 65 years of age and that number is expected to increase to nearly 18 percent by 2030.
BGE’s Community Affairs team increased outreach this year to senior customers to make them aware of the company’s programs and services. Between January and October 2015, the team reached over 17,500 seniors by engaging them at senior centers, senior housing facilities, civic associations and senior expos. (10,600 seniors reached in 2014.) This outreach consisted of the delivery of more than 20 presentations across our service territory on Energy Conservation, How to Read the BGE Bill, Energy Assistance, Smart Meters as well as BGE’s Smart Energy Savers Program.
In addition to delivering presentations, Community Affairs team members have exhibited at several health & wellness events and information fairs. We also sponsored and exhibited at three senior expos in Baltimore County (Baby Boomer / Senior Expo), Carroll County (Seniors on the Go! An Aging & Disabilities Expo), and Howard County (50+ Expo). And, we still have 10 scheduled events for senior audiences for the remainder of the year!
This year, we had an opportunity to engage with an entirely new audience – Korean-American seniors. During a visit at the Brooklyn Park Senior Center last summer, the center’s director shared with us that a large group of Asian-American seniors meets every Wednesday and requested a presentation on utility assistance and ways to save energy at home. BGE’s Asian American Resource Group (AARG), whose goal is to provide a link to the Asian-American community, partnered with Community Affairs to deliver an enlightening presentation on Energy Conservation and Energy Assistance to nearly 70 Korean-American seniors.
Along with presentations, our other major outreach events included sponsorships and exhibitions at senior expos.
In April 2015, more than 1,600 seniors and 125 vendors attended the Carroll Seniors on the Go!. That event took place at the Shipley Arena at the Carroll County Agricultural Center in Westminster.
In October 2015, more than 3,500 attendees over 50 years old and 170 vendors attended the Howard County 50+ Expo that took place at Wilde Lake High School in Columbia.
Also in October 2015, more than 11,000 baby boomers and seniors along with 300 exhibitors attended the Baby Boomer and Senior Expo at the Timonium Fairgrounds in Baltimore County.
At each of these expos, seniors and baby boomers were able to take advantage of numerous resources, eat delicious food, and be entertained. BGE was there to provide low cost and no cost ways of saving energy in the home and share information on Energy Assistance, Energy Choice, Gas & Electric Safety, Smart Meters, Billing and BGE’s Smart Energy Savers Program. We look forward to even more opportunities with our senior customers in the near future.
If you belong to an organization and would like BGE to participate either as presenter or as an exhibitor, please visit bge.com or contact our Community Affairs Hotline at 410-470-4103.
Enjoy some of the photos taken at several of our senior outreach events this year!
Bob Oberle, Sr. Community Relations Specialist
While we are enjoying mild weather now, and hopefully lower gas and electric usage as well, it won’t be long before the temperatures drop and our heating systems come on more frequently. A few months ago, I wrote about the importance of finding air leaks in the home and maintaining the heating and cooling equipment, as those systems account for nearly half of our energy consumption. I suggest using Halloween as a reminder to make repairs or improvements. If there are any problems or inefficiencies, we’d like to identify them before colder temperatures set in.
There’s still time to check your furnace operation and locate other inefficiencies in the home if you haven’t already. You may be able to identify and repair some yourself. In any case now is the time to act and become as energy efficient as possible. The Ways to Save page on BGE.com offers many tips on how to conserve energy and information on BGE savings programs such as the Quick Home Energy Check-Up and Home Performance with ENERGY STAR®.
And if you’d like a member of the BGE Community Affairs team to speak to your organization about getting ready for winter, we’d be glad to offer our $ave Energy, $ave Money presentation, which describes low cost or no cost ways to reduce your energy usage. We can also present on many other topics, which include: energy assistance, energy choice and selecting an alternative energy supplier, how to read and understand the bill, safety, and the BGE Smart Energy Savers Program®.
At BGE, we strive to be a good corporate partner to the communities we serve, to listen to our customers’ concerns and provide education. We’d be glad to partner with your organization and speak at one of your meetings. Call us at 410-470-4103 to schedule a presentation.
Here’s to hoping this winter is not too severe. But let’s prepare now to do what is necessary to tighten up our homes. Even minor improvements will have some savings dividends throughout the winter.
Frank Kelly, Diverse Business Enablement Manager
Among the many core values BGE employees share, diversity is certainly one which I strive to uphold daily. As Diverse Business Enablement Manager, my chief responsibility is to support BGE’s supplier diversity program by helping diverse-certified vendors navigate our procurement process.
Every year, BGE spends millions of dollars on supplies and services to help us deliver safe and reliable power to our customers. As important as it is for us to have our procurement needs met, it’s just as important for us to work with companies that represent ALL of the communities we serve. This is why BGE works tirelessly to develop relationships with organizations such as the Maryland Minority Contractors Association to help introduce us to diverse-certified vendors and cultivate relationships for short and long-term needs.
Additionally, for the last two years, BGE’s Focus 25 program has helped select diverse certified companies develop key strengths and insights that they can then use to better compete for business opportunities with BGE and other large companies. In accordance with Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)between the Public Service Commission (PSC) and BGE, our aspiration goal is to ensure that at least 25 percent of all of our contractual spend goes to a diverse certified business.
To date, nearly 20 diverse businesses have completed the year-long course and have graduated; and while there is no guarantee that any of them will actually secure contracts from BGE, some of them have started to fulfill work orders for us, partner with each other and do work for other large enterprises.
Why does BGE embrace supplier diversity? Having diverse business relationships provides many benefits – it provides us with an opportunity to discover new sources of supplies, talent and efficiencies; it also allows these businesses to continue to find success in their operations, hire and keep employees and retain economic value within their communities.
While we have won many awards for our supplier diversity programs, and appreciate the recognition, we also recognize that the importance of these programs (for BGE and other organizations) goes far beyond a shiny trophy or plaque. It helps businesses like ours learn how to perform better, it helps secure employment for members of our community, and it allows individuals and families to prosper.
To the nine new graduates of our 2015 Focus 25 class, congratulations on your achievement. I’m proud of your commitment and look forward to the many big things you will accomplish.
Ingrid D. Woods, Sr. Community Relations Specialist
On August 4, 2015, BGE participated in three National Night Out (NNO) events including two in Baltimore City and one in Baltimore County. In West Baltimore, we hosted an information table in Southern Park Heights hosted by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. In East Baltimore, we spent time in the Belair-Edison / Frankford community. And in Northern Baltimore County, we exhibited in the Yorkshire-Haverford community in Timonium, Maryland.
Each neighborhood had its own flavor, style and activities including moon bounces for the kids, marching bands, line dancing, visits from local law enforcement and fire fighters, visits from political figures and a host of resource providers. BGE representatives enjoyed talking with customers one-on-one about low cost and no cost ways of saving energy, providing information on Energy Assistance, Energy Choice, Smart Energy Rewards and our Smart Energy Savers Program including the Quick Home Energy Check-Up, Home Performance with Energy Star and Peak Rewards. Many customers seized the opportunity to sign up for programs on-site.
Since the beginning of the year, BGE has participated in nearly 125 community events, presentations and educational activities throughout our vast service territory. Company employees also volunteer numerous hours in the communities where we live, work and play.
Christie D. McMullen, Vice President, Gas Distribution
This past July, 2,000 excited and energetic campers experienced BGE’s first Captain Mercaptan Action Day at all of The Y in Central Maryland summer camp locations!
We introduced Captain Mercaptan
(our natural gas safety hero), to educate children about natural gas safety through a series of six fun-filled activities throughout the day. Two of my favorite Captain Mercaptan Action Day activities were the Ready, Set, Gas Race and
the Good Smell vs. Bad Smell Challenge.
The race had campers learning the signs of how to detect a natural gas leak and what actions to take to keep their friends and family safe. As you can see in the event video
, there is no doubt that the campers were enjoying themselves! The challenge, reinforced the smell of “mercaptan”, the safety additive BGE and other gas utilities put in natural gas to give it a rotten egg odor and make it easier to detect. In fact, that’s how Captain Mercaptan got his name! Check out some photos on BGE’s Facebook page.
Safety is, and will always be, BGE’s number one priority. That’s why Captain Mercaptan Action Day was the perfect setting to introduce our new “IRON MAN featuring Captain Mercaptan, in A Natural Team” comic book
to campers. Now, the importance of energy safety can reach children in a fun and creative way.
Special thanks to The Y in Central Maryland and their campers, who have now become gas safety heroes too, for making Captain Mercaptan Action Day a success. We look forward to continually presenting energy safety lessons that are easy, effective and fun to our community. For more information on Captain Mercaptan and BGE’s natural gas safety education initiatives, visit BGE.COM/CaptainMercaptan
Bob Oberle, Sr. Community Relations Specialist
Whether we are turning off lights and other appliances when not in use, keeping thermostats at moderate settings (68 degrees for heating, 78 degrees for cooling), using ceiling fans in place of air conditioning, switching to CFLs, or reducing our hot water usage, we all do what we can to save energy and reduce the cost of our utility bills. But considering that heating and cooling can account for up to 50% of our energy usage, it’s always best to concentrate our efforts on our home comfort systems first. We can’t control the outside temperatures, but if we can identify where our home is losing energy, we can develop a plan to reduce the running time of our heating and cooling systems, while still maintaining a comfortable house. Just a few things to consider:
For other tips, visit our "Ways to Save" and if you haven’t done so already, consider signing up for our Quick Home Energy Check-Up. An energy efficiency professional will conduct a one hour walk-through of your home, and check the condition of its insulation, heating and air cooling system, lighting, appliances and more to identify simple ways to help you save energy and money. Plus they will install up to 23 energy savings items at no additional cost to you.
Faviola Donato-Galindo, Sr. Community Relations Specialist
BGE’s White Marsh Training Center recently welcomed fifty middle school students from the 2015 Verizon Minority Male Maker Summer Program directed by Morgan State University. The program aims to teach students the skills that will help lead them to be college and career ready including a focus in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The students had an opportunity to learn about the skilled labor required to reliably and safely deliver natural gas and electricity to BGE customers, while also learning about gas and electric safety. Utility trainers and trainees took the participants through a series of learning activities, which included: a natural gas safety demonstration, gas pipe fusion, the importance of using safety and personal protective equipment, a demonstration of trainees climbing electrical poles, a look inside a manhole and understanding of how a pad mount transformer works.
The activity is a great example of how BGE supports career exploration and workforce development for the next generation, particularly in the crucial fields of STEM. BGE is committed to supporting organizations through charitable funding and volunteer efforts that help deliver a sustained and measurable impact in the areas of education, energy efficiency, environment, emergency response and economic and community development.
It is essential that we continue supporting programs that cultivate educational opportunities for students from all backgrounds and communities and contribute to a stronger economy for Maryland. By connecting with these programs, local students are able to pursue careers in science, engineering, technology and other fields that not only help them succeed on a individual level, but allow them to give back and keep their communities moving forward.
To request a tour, presentation or BGE participation at your school event, email us at BGEeducationalOutreach@bge.com or call 410-470-4103. You can also complete the online request form.
Ammanuel Moore, Economic Development Manager
As BGE’s Economic Development Manager, only one thing equals the excitement of helping a Maryland-based business establish or expand its operations - finding new opportunities to share and discuss the many ways we can help the businesses community save money while they strive to grow.
Recently, BGE held its first Energizing Business Growth Breakfast for central Maryland’s business community. Nearly 200 guests attended, ranging from small and large manufacturing and industrial operations to business-related nonprofits and government agencies. Everyone had the opportunity to network, speak with BGE leaders and better connect the dots between our energy efficiency and economic development programs and their desire to save money as they plan their business future. (Click the links to see the summary video
of the event.)
One of the topics of discussion I held with several of our guests focused on how BGE can help a business save money with the purchase of new or upgraded equipment. Such is the case with our BGE Smart Energy Savers rebates. Depending on the size of the project, some rebates can be more than a million dollars! BGE also has an economic development program that can help to temporarily reduce demand and delivery charges – when a qualifying amount of electric demand is met and at least 10 new full-time employees are hired. By becoming aware of these programs and taking advantage of them, businesses can better afford to invest in facility improvements, workforce growth or sustainability, and other important areas to help increase competitiveness.
With every project that BGE supports, I take pride in being able to direct our resources to help each business find success. In my encounters, it has become apparent to me that everyone involved in the planning and completion of any project experiences a since of accomplishment for not just that one enterprise, but also the local community for which it belongs. As an economic development professional, I never see our work as simply providing energy to facilities – but rather as a partnership toward the creation and support of new jobs and economic opportunity for the region.
For those who attended our breakfast – thank you for helping to make it a success. As was discussed at the event, effective business growth and economic development can only be achieved with a true partnership. With that being said, I invite you to explore our programs as you consider your business growth plans. And for those who weren’t able to join us , we’re just as eager to support your needs.
Faviola Donato-Galindo, Sr. Community Relations Specialist
Volunteerism is both inspiring and meaningful as it allows us to connect with the community at a personal level. BGE’s employee resource group, The Organization for Latinos at Exelon (OLE), recently had the opportunity to participate in two rewarding volunteer activities.
In celebration of National Volunteer Week last month (April 12-18), OLE members had the chance to engage and support Latino middle school students who had recently started at Wiley H. Bates Middle School in Anne Arundel County after immigrating mainly from Central America. Volunteers provided assistance during three English for Speakers of Other Language (ESOL) classes through individual and small group lesson activities. This activity presented a unique opportunity to engage in mutual dialogue about overcoming challenges and persevering by not only completing school, but also excelling in school. At the end of the activity, OLE members felt that it was a truly fulfilling experience and the educators were appreciative of this rare opportunity.
Another impactful volunteer opportunity was the March of Dimes March for Babies walk on Saturday, May 9th. OLE members joined BGE employees, family and friends and hundreds of walkers to support stronger, healthier babies. The OLE team was energized, motivated, and extremely happy to support this great cause. The mission of the March of Dimes Foundation is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.
These activities are part of many volunteer opportunities that BGE makes available to its employees through Energy for the Community as a commitment to supporting the communities we serve.
OLE is proud to be a part of BGE’s effort by growing and maximizing our presence through community service.
To learn more about BGE’s community outreach plans and events, visit us at www.bge.com/communitycalendar or follow us at twitter.com/mybge or facebook.com/mybge.
Michael Davenport, Manager, Community Affairs
Do you sometimes ask yourself, what can I do to get involved to help others in need? How often do we all make resolutions with a top 10 list but struggle to accomplish the first item on the list? Or how about this one, “Tomorrow, I plan to do “x”. Well there is no better time to start than right now. Throughout the Baltimore metropolitan area and beyond, there are many organizations that provide essential services to various causes and people in need.
Whether it is working in a homeless shelter, sorting food or clothing at a distribution center, preparing and serving meals, cleaning a park or a stream, reading a book to a child or visiting a senior center to spend time with those who might not have families, there is something we all can do.
Last week members of BGE’s Community Affairs team had the honor and privilege to serve guests at Sarah's House. Sarah's House is a supportive housing program, offering emergency and transitional housing and an array of other services to homeless families in Anne Arundel County. To be a guest at Sarah’s House, you must be referred by Anne Arundel County DSS, and all guests must be from Anne Arundel County. One important goal of Sarah’s House is keeping families together while they are in the process of getting back on their feet. In addition to housing, services include parenting and GED classes, employment programs and counseling services along with transportation and meal service.
Serving at Sarah’s House was an awesome and gratifying experience which offered our team the opportunity to spend time with some of the guests by preparing and serving a meal to them and enjoying a pleasant conversation. While our core business is to deliver safe and reliable gas and electric service to our customers, our employees are committed to investing time in the lives of our neighbors.
As we continue working to increase customer awareness of BGE programs and services, we also want to make our customers aware of our dedication to the communities in which we live and work.
Hats-off to the staff and volunteers at Sarah’s House! One thing for sure, Sarah’s House can count on our team of volunteers in the near future!
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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Pictured from left to right: Faviola Donato-Galindo, Michael Davenport, Ingrid Woods
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