Allyson Black, State Affairs Manager Governmental & External Affairs
There are few better ways to introduce girls to the legislative process than participating in Girls State. Girls State is a national youth program sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary. The program trains potential leaders in good citizenship and helps them understand and participate in the functions of various levels of government in their State. Since its inception in 1937, more than one million young women have gained first-hand knowledge of how local and state government works through participation in the program.
I had the pleasure of participating in the Legislative Project at Maryland’s Girls State at Salisbury University . This year, 131 high school girls from throughout Maryland participated in the week long program. The Legislative Project challenges the girls to think as legislators when making tough decisions regarding whether a bill should become a law. The girls created a mock legislature where they were divided into members of the House and Senate chambers and assigned to either the National Party or the Federalist Party. Once divided into their committees, the girls considered legislation for debate and vote with real examples from the 2014 Legislative Session. My role during the Legislative Project was to do what I do every day for BGE, which is to lobby the legislature to gain their support for my position on the issues that concern the organization I represent.
The young ladies did their homework, and they appreciated the fact that I did mine. I argued my position based not only on the arguments used by opponents of the bill during the 2014 session, but also based on factual data. I researched articles, studies and reports and used the data to support my arguments. The Legislative Project is designed to encourage the girls to deeply study policy issues and make informed decisions. The young ladies asked thoughtful questions, researched sources, weighed the pros and cons of raising the minimum wage and considered amendments to lessen the impact on the business community. Thankfully, I did not take their commitment to learning and understanding the issues for granted. The project caused them to think deeply and rationally, and while their opinions on issues may change or grow stronger as they mature into adulthood, the foundation of meaningful and inquisitive thinking has been laid.
Girls State provides a level of insight into policy issues that many persons, young and old, do not possess. It creates a hands-on learning opportunity that will help equip them to serve their communities as the best and brightest future leaders. I am excited to know that Girls State is preparing young women for leadership, and even more excited that BGE had a role in this preparation.
Priscilla Akuoko, Social Media Web Analyst
Social media Day, also known as #SMDay in the online world, is recognized on June 30 and has been every year since 2010. This is the same year BGE joined social media to connect with our customers. As our social media following continues to grow, we recognize the importance of interacting with users through various online tools. We provide customers with information about our programs, initiatives and services through interactive content including; visuals, text, videos and online contests.
Some of the interactive content we developed in 2014 includes the BGE Ugly Fridge
Contest where customers posted photos of their “ugly” refrigerator to our Facebook page
for a chance to win great prizes. We were happy to grant all prizes especially the brand new ENERGY STAR certified refrigerator that went to the first-prize winner. Also with the recent launch of PeakRewards Mobile, we have been giving away
PeakRewards mobile screen cleaners through weekly online contests on Facebook. So there’s a chance for everyone to win something.
Another way to interact with our customers online is through weekly posts such as the re-launch of our #WayBackWednesday where we share pieces of BGE history from way back in the sixties and seventies. These photos include linemen, old buildings and utility trucks. And we have an upcoming Fact or Fiction Fridays where the BGE Social Media Team will post true and false facts and the customers can choose which fact they think is true. Stay tuned!
BGE is actively present on several media platforms including Facebook, Twitter
. As social media platforms and its users expand, we look forward in to branching out to other platforms provided that they create another convenient avenue to communicate with our customers.
With the rapid growth of social media networks, utility customers will take part and create online conversations. Being in the same space as our customers provides us with the opportunity to join the conversation and respond to customers as the inquiries and comments come.
Our channels have also lent a way for our customers to share encouraging and thoughtful words to our linemen who work hard to restore power outages in any type of weather. It may be more convenient to tweet a thank you note than it is to call or write a letter. Customers tend to be more comfortable to share their thoughts online which give us more insight. We hope that through social media our customers also have a growing understanding of BGE’s core values, programs and services.
Connect with MyBGE on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on our programs and services and win prizes in our informative trivia contests. We would be happy to hear from you on social media.
Happy Social Media Day!
Keisha Clarke-English, SR Marketing Specialist
BGE was proud to be a sponsor of this year’s African American Festival, an annual two-day summer event that celebrates life, music, and culture. We hosted a booth from which our team was able to interact with our customers to share information about ways to save energy and money, including the launch of the BGE Smart Energy Rewards® program - a smart meter-enabled program that helps residential customers earn credits on their summer electricity bills. Our participation in the event is part of BGE’s longstanding commitment to support community-based activities as an effort to enhance the quality of life in our area.
Attendance at the festival, allowed BGE to meet with over 1,300 customers in a lively atmosphere. Booth visitors had the opportunity to answer a BGE-related question for a chance to spin the “Summer Wheel of Savings” and win a special prize. We were able to showcase interactive demonstrations for our Lighting Discounts and PeakRewards℠ programs. We had a great time talking with visitors and informing them about the benefits of the BGE Smart Energy Savers Program®, which helps customers conserve energy, save money and protect the environment. Our Human Resources team was also onsite to share information on career opportunities at BGE.
The African American festival has been a Baltimore tradition for the past 30 years and has welcomed over 350,000 attendees annually, making it the largest cultural festival on the East Coast. Every year musical artists headline the festival. In addition to the dozens of activities, from entertainment to educational, empowerment seminars to health and wellness demonstrations – of course we can’t forget the wide variety of food!
Rob Biagiotti, Vice President, Gas Distribution
Everyone needs to understand how to be safe around energy, especially children. When it comes to educating kids, programs that are interactive and fun are more likely to help them retain information.
Delivering important safety messages in a fun, creative way was our goal when we launched the Captain Mercaptan BGE Natural Gas Safety Hero Challenge this year. We asked elementary school students to design a super hero, “Captain Mercaptan,” to help teach other kids the importance of safety around natural gas.
The hero’s name is based on the safety additive “mercaptan” that BGE and other utilities add to natural gas to give it an easy-to-detect, rotten egg smell. In the contest entry kit and through our educational website, we also provided teachers with gas safety facts and lesson plans to further incorporate the contest into the classroom. The kids took it from there.
Elementary schools all throughout central Maryland submitted outstanding entries. Then, the public cast more than 36,000 votes for their favorite depictions of Captain Mercaptan.
I recently had the pleasure to help award the first place winning design, and I think you can tell from the video of the event that the kids who participated really walked away with a great understanding of gas safety.
Overall, BGE provided $35,000 through the contest to help schools complete enrichment projects. It doesn’t end here though. Every great super hero needs adventures, super friends, and new dilemmas to solve. Stay tuned to BGEGasHero.com to find out what is next for Captain Mercaptan and for more chances to win funds for school projects.
In the meantime, we need you to be a hero too. Talk to the children in your life about the importance of gas safety. Show them this great cartoon from the American Gas Association to start the conversation. You can brush up on your own natural gas safety knowledge at bge.com/NaturalGasSafety or visit www.safegasmaryland.org.
I also encourage you to include electric safety in your discussion and help introduce a new generation of kids to BGE’s memorable Wires Down commercial. The 3rd annual BGE Wires Down Video Challenge, launching this fall, prompts elementary schools to create their own adaptation of Wires Down electric safety commercial for a chance to win up to $10,000. Visit bgevideochallenge.com for the contest timeline and more information.
The truth is you don’t have to be a super hero to make a difference. But if you can help keep one child safe around natural gas and electricity, then you will be a hero to that child.
Michael Davenport, Manager, Community Affairs
Recently BGE served as a sponsor and exhibitor at the Celebrado Nuestra Comunida Feria Latina! (Celebrating Our Community Latino Fair!). Feria Latina is an annual celebration organized by the Latino Providers Network
(LPN). The LPN is a community based umbrella organization whose mission is to maximize resources in the Latino community through advocacy, education and networking. BGE has been a supporter and participant of the LPN for many years - recently joining its board of directors and funding its education series.
Supporting the LPN is one of the ways BGE serves the community in efforts to enhance the quality of life in the communities we live, work and serve. Our goal is to continue building our presence and relationship with the growing Latino community throughout our service territory and we have found opportunities for engagement to be very rewarding. This was our second consecutive year participating in Feria Latina and our experience has been educational, and engaging. Over 50 exhibitors participated in the event this year by sharing information and offering direct services in the areas of health, education, arts/culture, family, immigration, legal and financial services.
BGE was thrilled to participate again this year and was well represented by several Spanish speaking employees who played a vital role in speaking with visitors on the topics of gas and electric safety, education programs for school children, smart meters and information about energy assistance programs. While we offered some bi-lingual Spanish/English literature, our emphasis was on creating a dialog between the visitors and our employees which was a tremendous value and greatly appreciated by many whose spoke Spanish as their first More than 500 attendees came out to take part in the event, including seniors and children. We were pleased to be a part of the celebration present and look to continue to have a positive impact by building on our relationship and presence in this community.
BGE employees from left to right: Michael Davenport, Gabriel Nuñ
ez, Hemi Maldanado, Carlos Orbegoso, Rafael Olazagasti, Linda Marquez and Lorena Reyes-Harding
To schedule a presentation or BGE participation at your community event, contact Community Affairs at 410-470-4103. You can also request a speaker via bge.com.
Barbara Palmer, Account Representative, Business Account Services
The Afro-American Newspapers launches its Character Education program each year to promote positive character traits among our youth. Corporate professionals and business leaders participate by writing a personal testimony of how good character traits such as honesty, hard work, fairness, responsibility, etc. helped them as a middle and high school teenager; and those same traits also helps them achieve success in the workplace.
These testimonies are featured in the AFRO and delivered to public middle schools during Black History Month as part of an essay contest, where eighth graders review the testimonies and write about the personal stories they found most inspiring and how they plan to use what they’ve learned to shape their future.
I was truly honored that BGE selected me to be one of its employees to be featured in the 2014 Character Education program. But the true pleasure and honor was when I learned my story was the focus of essay contest winner Rachel B., of Kingsview Middle School. As she stood on the podium reading her essay, I was more than overwhelmed. It was so humbling to hear how I made a positive impact in a young lady’s life that had never met me. She read her essay with much conviction and the audience could tell she had been touched.
During the award ceremony, I had the opportunity to talk to Rachel. She warmed my heart and I was so touched when she told me she had already told her mom not to buy her anything for Christmas. She wants her mother to use this money to help those in need. Rachel has also decided to volunteer at soup kitchens and try to visit hospitals often and cheer up those that are sick and feeling down. This is a great example of how we all are impacting people on a daily basis and we may not even know it. You may not realize someone is watching you. Someone is depending on your smile to help them make it through the day, and someone is depending on your sense of humor to help them through.
At BGE, we’re committed to supporting the communities we serve
. Whether it’s through corporate giving and sponsorships, volunteering or coming out to an event to speak and listen to our customers, we understand that just as our service touches many people in Maryland, our community service has the potential to touch so much more. And working for a company that encourages employees to find ways to give back, aligns with my personal values and purpose to encourage and inspire people I meet in any way possible as I walk through this journey called “LIFE”.
It is my special purpose to inspire women that are battling breast cancer since I have travelled this path twice. Though I thought nothing could give me more pleasure than assisting these women and seeing the positive impact I make in their lives as they are fighting for their lives, I discovered something that would give me more joy and pride. This something was being selected by Rachel Bender, as her inspiration. My dear Rachel your essay has in fact inspired me. I am glad I made a positive impression on you. You must now remember to PASS IT ON!!!!!
In closing I will say, always treat others the way you want to be treated and be kind to everyone – you never know what battle someone may be going through.
William Jackson, Assistant Transmission System Operator
Many people consider Memorial Day to be the unofficial start of the summer season. And while for many families this only means time to heat up the grill, head to the beach or take in a big blockbuster movie; let’s also remember that Memorial Day has the word "MEMORIAL" in it for a reason.
The holiday received its roots on May 30, 1868, when Union General John A. Logan declared the day an occasion to decorate the graves of Civil War soldiers. Twenty years later, the name was changed to Memorial Day. On May 11, 1950, Congress passed a resolution requesting that the president issue a proclamation calling on Americans to observe each Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace. President Richard M. Nixon declared Memorial Day a federal holiday in 1971, where on the last Monday of May, we pause to honor the men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.
BGE has long recognized the
contributions of our men and women in uniforms. Through our charitable contributions, volunteer efforts and participation in holiday observances we’ve demon-strated our support for the members of our military. Many of our employees, have proudly served as Marine, Soldier, Sailor, Airman and/or Guard. I too had the honor of serving in the United States Army, where I served six years as a Military Police Officer where the motto is to “Serve and Protect with Dignity and Respect”. That is the same motto I live by today as I serve as the President of EMAC (Exelon Militaries Actively Connected) Baltimore Employee Resource Group. One of the main things I learned while serving in the military is that the word “RESPECT” goes a long way and this is why I like to pay my respects to those who lost their lives serving this country.
As I pause this upcoming Memorial Day weekend, I’ll take the time to reflect on the freedoms we have in this country and how thankful I am for the courageous and men and women for their service and helping to make this nation the greatest on earth. To those of you who continue to serve and those who have loved ones still in uniform, thank you for your selflessness. May you all have a peaceful and meaningful holiday.
Healey, BGE Smart Meter Customer
My family participates in the PeakRewards Air Conditioning program as a way to cut cost on our electric bill each summer. Last spring, we received information about new programs available only to customers with Smart Meters called BGE Smart Energy Rewards® and BGE Smart Energy Manager® that BGE was offering as another way to save money on summer bills. After reading all the materials that came in the mail and talking to a BGE representative about our options, we decided to give both programs a try.
Once we had a smart meter installed, we had access to BGE Smart Energy Manager, which is an online tool that helps us understand our energy use. It was the first time that we had real analytics about our energy usage – from how much we used each day, to comparisons to neighbors and even personalized energy savings tips. Best of all, I didn’t have to enroll and the information was readily available through my BGE.com account.
Last summer, my family saved $82 through BGE Smart Energy Rewards, a voluntary program that allowed us to earn bill credits for reducing our electricity usage on hot summer days, known as Energy Savings Days. I opted to receive a text message whenever an Energy Savings Day was scheduled and would then let everyone in the house know so we could start preparing how we would reduce our electricity usage. The great thing about the program was that I was in control of my own savings. On Energy Savings Days we just reduced our energy without it making any difference in our daily lives. A day later we received an email telling us exactly how much we had saved – it’s that simple. We made it a family contest in the house to find as many things as possible to help us save. We turned off power strips, delayed the use of appliances, unplugged gaming console and cell phone chargers, and turned off lights and our DVR. Since we are already enrolled in the PeakRewards program, the energy saved from cycling our A/C during the Energy Savings Day helped to contributed to the bill credits we earned through the BGE Smart Energy Rewards program.
After receiving our first credit, we all agreed that being more energy efficient has its benefits. Not only does being a BGE Smart Energy Rewards participant help us save money, but it has also helped me to recognize the environmental benefits of the program. I encourage anyone with a smart meter to participate in this program to help save energy and money this summer.
BGE Smart Meter Customer
Ingrid D. Woods, Sr. Community Relations Specialist
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), in 2012, 49 million Americans aren’t getting enough to eat due to limited resources—meaning one in six Americans lacks access to enough food. This includes individuals, children and elderly that are at risk of going hungry even with at least one working adult in the home. Nearly 16 million children lived in food insecure households in 2012, leading to inadequate nutrition affecting their physical growth and negatively impacting cognitive and behavioral development. These children can also be irritable, tired and have difficulty concentrating in school compared to those who are eating properly.
So, how do we make an impact in the lives of these families struggling in our own communities? Feeding America is the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity. Their mission is to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger. The Maryland Food Bank, founded 35 years ago, is the Maryland affiliate of Feeding America. It has huge facilities in Baltimore, Hagerstown and Salisbury and is responsible for coordinating the receipt and distribution of food donations through many resources including manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and government agencies to provide food (at no cost) to Maryland residents who are hungry. In 2013, the Maryland Food Bank distributed nearly 27 million pounds of food to 600 soup kitchens, pantries and shelters across the state.
Recently, BGE’s Community Affairs team had the privilege of volunteering several hours at the Maryland Food Bank’s Baltimore County location where team members sorted and packed hundreds of food donations. The warehouse was huge and the packing process was quite impressive! Everyone was responsible for a certain task. The Food Bank provides food to approximately 600,000 hungry Marylanders each week through its extraordinary volunteer network.
The Maryland Food Bank is just one of the many venues where BGE employees volunteer and give back to the communities where we live, work and play. Last year, BGE employees, friends and family members dedicated over 25,000 hours to volunteer activities including mentoring, serving meals, planting trees, cleaning playgrounds and even serving on the boards of more than 100 non-profit organizations.
Check out www.bge.com/ourcommitments - for additional volunteer activities and photos of BGE employees in action.
Ammanuel Moore, Economic Development Manager
Maryland’s economy is changing. It is evolving to embrace many emerging technologies and growing industries that spark invention, job creation and consequently a new wave of long-standing opportunity for residents and businesses. While these changes are certain, it’s also widely understood that it’s not an overnight venture, but rather an enduring, strategic process that will yield desired benefits in the years to come – and hopefully for many generations.
As state and local leaders work together to help Maryland achieve its vision, business leaders are also working in unison to assist with the strategy for helping to move Maryland forward. Many of those leaders and economic development agency representatives convened at the 2014 Maryland Economic Development Association’s Annual Conference (MEDA)
to talk about the future of Maryland.
conference theme – Harnessing Maryland’s Intellectual Capital for Economic Growth – focused on ways to leverage innovation coming from our universities, research labs and entrepreneurs. As these new economic sources, bring new products and services to the market or improve outdated ways of doing business, they have the power to ultimately help Marylanders reap new levels of growth.
Like many other businesses in Maryland, BGE has a strong interest in seeing Maryland thrive. Through participating in forums like the MEDA conference, and our partnering with surrounding economic development agencies, we’re helping to shape Maryland’s economic strategy. Also by actively working with businesses and residential customers to lower energy usage and increase savings and giving back to communities through charitable donations and volunteer efforts, we’re offering tangible ways to help support Maryland’s economy.
For example, in 2013 through BGE Smart Energy Savers Program® incentives, we helped our residential and business customers achieve more than $65 million in immediate savings and nearly $400 million in lifecycle energy savings that will result from the use of BGE discounted energy-efficient lighting, appliances and home/office equipment. The dollars saved are often routed by our customers back to the local economy, helping to support a local business that results in job creation and job sustainability.
At BGE we are also doing our part to contribute
to Maryland’s economic development as we supply safe and reliable gas and electric service to our 1.2 million customers throughout Central Maryland, of that number about 55,000 are industrial, commercial and government customers. Further, as we invest to maintain our energy delivery network, we procure hundreds of millions of dollars in materials, equipment and services each year from both large and small businesses – many of which are located in Maryland and are minority or women-owned. Like other businesses across Maryland, we recognize our spending, hiring, philanthropic contributions and tax dollars adds to Maryland’s economy and creates opportunity. When local businesses and employees prosper, so does the state.
As Maryland looks to the technology sector to help strengthen its economy, our state leaders recognize they can’t do it alone. Through the leadership of MEDA, partnerships with business advocacy groups, and the strategic hard work of local economic development agencies, businesses, educational institutions and residents, we can all re-energize Maryland, and make it a hub for business, innovation and opportunity for everyone.
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