Jeannette M. Mills, VP, Customer Operations & Chief Customer Officer
At BGE, safety is a priority in everything we do – whether it’s working with natural gas and electrical equipment in the field or making sure our employees work safely within our offices. It’s important to be mindful of possible mishaps and dangers in the home, workplace and outdoors and take the necessary measures to avoid risk. During National Electric Safety Month, we want to help increase public awareness of electrical hazards and remind customers to always be cautious around electricity. These tips, taken from our electric safety page can help you get more out of your electric use and avoid any potential harm:
During storms, wind and trees can damage utility equipment – at times resulting in downed wires. If you see downed electrical wires, stay away and warn others. Call BGE immediately at 1.877.778.2222.
Overhead Line Clearance
For your safety and the safety of others, BGE urges you to stay away from overhead power lines. If overhead lines are present and you or your equipment will be working within 10-feet of those lines, the law requires that you MUST contact BGE at 800.685.0123 prior to the start of any work. BGE will evaluate the site and determine the best course of action. Remember, no work can be started until all necessary safety measures are complete.
Electrical disturbances, known as surges, have a number of causes such as lightning, falling tree limbs, solar and wind storms and vehicles hitting utility poles. BGE recommends using good-quality surge protection equipment for all sensitive electronic equipment, or consider getting whole house protection to safeguard all of your equipment.
Preventing Damage to Electric Equipment
It is extremely important to practice safety when working near overhead and underground electric equipment. By taking a few precautions and following laws such as the Maryland High Voltage Line Act and Miss Utility law, which helps to prevent coming into contact with underground lines, you can protect yourself and others, as well as the electric (and natural gas) equipment that serves you.
Electricity is a valuable energy source when used properly. Like any other source of energy, it can be hazardous if used carelessly or the proper precautions are not taken. BGE cares about your safety and wants you to experience the convenience that electricity provides without harm. We encourage you to follow these safety tips and share them with your friends and family.
Bob Oberle, Principal Community Relations Specialist
I have fond memories of watching westerns on TV with my father back in the 50s and 60s. Several were on each night during prime time. A 25 inch black and white TV, (which took several seconds to warm up before an image magically appeared), a turn table for spinning LPs, and a radio were the extent of our “electronics”.
Today’s homes typically may have large screen TVs, cable boxes, video gaming systems, PCs, DVD players, and portable recharging devices -- all unheard of not all that long ago. Individually, their usage may not seem like much. Together, however, these consumer electronics can use a significant amount of energy, accounting for approximately 15% of our household electric usage. In any case many of them consume energy even when not turned on. Some appliances in the “standby” mode can still use electricity. For these appliances, this stand-by energy (or phantom electric) can range from just a few watts to as much as 20 watts for some equipment.
What can we do to stop wasting
energy and money? For starters, turn it off if it is not in use. Even some electronics can simply be unplugged. Traditional power strips are an affordable and convenient way to expand the number of electrical outlets in your home. However, they may lead you to leave electronics plugged in all the time. While plugged in, printers, computers and plasma TVs will keep drawing power in the standby mode. It’s better to use a “Smart Strip” for clusters of computer or video products. Smart strips can reduce your power usage by shutting down power to products that go into standby mode. For example, when a printer plugged into a smart strip goes into standby mode, its power consumption drops. The circuitry detects the change and cuts the power to that outlet. The rest of the outlets on the power strip stay on if they are in use. A smart strip can be installed at no additional charge as one of the energy savings measures included in the BGE Quick Home Energy Checkup
. Visit The BGE Smart Energy Savers Program
website for options to save energy, money and the environment. And if it’s time to buy a new appliance, including electronics, do your homework and consider buying electronics with the ENERGY STAR® label.
Let’s continue to keep saving energy one device at a time. Making small changes in your routine and the use of efficient appliances will have a noticeable reduction of energy.
All for now,
Robert D. Biagiotti, P.E., Vice President, Gas Distribution Operations & Planning
All this month, we have been reminding everyone of the importance of calling Miss Utility at 811 before starting any digging project. That is because April is recognized as National Safe Digging Month. But, making sure that you know what is below ground before digging extends beyond April. Making the call to 811 is a year-round safety commitment.
A complex underground infrastructure of pipelines and wires quietly deliver essential services to us every day—including electricity, natural gas, water, sewage and communications. Unfortunately, because these facilities are out of sight, they also can be out of mind. As proof, in the U.S. every eight minutes an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without first calling 811.
Careless, unsafe digging can cause serious harm to you or those around you, disrupt service to an entire neighborhood, and potentially result in fines and repair costs. Why anyone would take that risk is perplexing, especially when with one simple call to Miss Utility at 811, buried utility lines can be marked.
Safe digging means placing a call to Miss Utility at 811 before every digging project, from simple landscaping projects like planting trees or shrubs, to building a deck or installing a mailbox.
Here’s how it works:
• One simple phone call to 811 makes it easy for Miss Utility to notify BGE and all appropriate utility companies of your intent to dig.
• Call at least two business days but not more than 10 days prior to digging to ensure enough time for utility lines to be properly marked.
• When you call 811, a representative from Miss Utility will ask for the location and description of your digging project.
• Miss Utility will notify affected utility companies, who will then send a professional locator to the proposed dig site to mark the approximate location of your lines.
• Once you confirm with Miss Utility that all lines have been properly marked, you can get to work. Your best bet is to redesign your project to avoid digging anywhere near marked underground utilities. However, if you can’t avoid it, hand dig with extreme caution and never use mechanized excavation equipment within 18 inches of marked utilities. Even hand tools like shovels, picks and digging bars can easily damage underground lines.
Don’t become part of the statistic – make sure to call Miss Utility at 811 before you dig! For more information, visit www.BGE.com/811 or www.call811.com.
Jeannette M. Mills, VP, Customer Operations & Chief Customer Officer
Around the globe, citizens in just about every country will celebrate environmental stewardship and recognize their responsibility toward helping to ensure our planet remains healthy and vibrant. Various Earth Day activities will take place to build awareness, assemble community efforts to clean and “green” public areas and encourage behavioral changes – such as cutting back on energy when possible.
As the largest utility in Maryland, BGE is closely linked to the natural resources we all share and we’re committed to operate in ways to protect the environment – not just during Earth Day or Earth Month, but throughout the year. This Earth Day, BGE will once again be participating at several different events including tree planting, providing energy efficiency and conservation information and encouraging our own employees to continue to do their part in efforts to be energy conscious.
Over the years, BGE’s environmental efforts and programs have been recognized by industry leaders such as ENERGY STAR®, The Maryland Recyclers Coalition and several local chambers of commerce. While we appreciate the recognition, we know that the bigger reward to having a responsible operation is our contribution to the sustainability of our environment. In fact, one of our core values is environmental responsibility and whether it’s through recycling, using bio-diesel fueled vehicles, or setting up internal programs to reduce energy usage and waste, we make every effort to be a thoughtful and caring steward in the communities we serve.
While Earth Day is a great occasion to recognize ways to help the environment, we encourage you to find ways to conserve and practice energy efficiency every day.
Happy Earth Day!
David Conn, Energy Assistance Program Director
On an unseasonably warm April day, about 100 dedicated activists stormed the offices of Capitol Hill in Washington to make the case for a program that can mean life or death for millions of vulnerable households around the nation.
“Stormed” is perhaps too strong a word, as the utility industry and local nonprofit representatives were unfailingly polite in our meetings with congressional staff to discuss funding for the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP. The annual event was sponsored by the National Fuel Funds Network
and the American Gas Association. Our lighted buttons were about as flashy as we got.
But our mission was
quite serious. Last year, thanks to LIHEAP
, nearly 9 million American households received help paying their heating and cooling bills. These energy assistance grants went to the least fortunate among us. About 75 percent lived in households with income below $15,000 a year, and half earned less than $10,000. Almost all of these households included at least one resident who was elderly, disabled or a child under age six. In Maryland
, almost 30 percent of LIHEAP recipients are elderly. And today, about one in five who benefit from the program nationally is a veteran – a figure that has risen more than 150 percent in the past three years.
For many of these recipients, the ability to keep the power on can mean the difference between stable housing and a life on the streets. Most rental leases require that utilities remain on. And the average cost to the state for all the interventions that arise when individuals lose housing can range from $35,000 to $150,000 a year, according to former federal homelessness director Philip Mangano – from the increased risk of hospitalization, imprisonment and stays in emergency and transitional shelters. These are costs we all bear as citizens, and they are easily avoided with modest investments in preventive measures such as LIHEAP.
Our message to the legislators and staff we met with was to support a LIHEAP appropriation of $4.7 billion in federal Fiscal Year 2014, which begins in October. That is less than the recent peak of $5.1 billion in 2009 and 2010. Since those years funding has declined 30 percent to this year’s budget of less than $3.5 billion. As you can see, Maryland has experienced a steady decline in LIHEAP funding in recent years.
As we made the rounds, we received some challenging news: President Obama released his proposed budget, including a cut to LIHEAP of $473 million, to $3.02 billion. LIHEAP has bipartisan support in Washington, however, and we remain hopeful that despite the move toward budget austerity, there will be support for a higher level of funding.
In Maryland, we received just over $66 million in Fiscal Year 2013, down from nearly $70 million the year before. The funds helped more than 123,000 households, including nearly 58,000 among BGE’s customers. Still, census data indicate there are well over 600,000 eligible households in the state. BGE will continue to work toward the day when all of our customers have the resources to meet their home energy needs. You can read more about these efforts and other programs here
Ingrid D. Woods, Principal Community Relations Specialist
Nearly two years ago, Operation Oliver established itself as a pillar in the East Baltimore Oliver community by forming a volunteer network to literally “clean up” the streets. Volunteers have removed plenty of garbage and debris from streets and alleyways, beautiful green lots have been adopted from the Baltimore City, murals have been painted, new residents have moved to the community, there has been a rise in residents enrolling in job training programs, and more. And, they’re not finished yet!
Recently, Operation Oliver, the Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE)
and employees of Baltimore Gas and Electric teamed up to revitalize a previously vacant lot at North Bethel and Oliver Streets in East Baltimore. More than 30 volunteers came by cars, trains and taxis to paint picnic tables, clean alleyways, haul mulch and lay fertilizer as a part of the beautification project to be enjoyed by the community. As a part of their community service initiative, AABE members who were in town for their 36th Annual National Conference, “Energy: Embracing Change and Creating Opportunities,” decided to volunteer a few hours of their time at the site.
AABE is a national association of more than 1,600 energy professionals, organized into more than 35 chapters around the country, including Baltimore. Members come from various areas of the energy industry including trade associations, agencies, universities, consulting firms, entrepreneurs and utilities dedicated to ensure the input of African Americans and other minorities into the discussions and developments of energy policies, regulations and environmental issues.
It was the sentiment of many of the volunteers that Operation Oliver is definitely a worthwhile project. Many of us who reside in Maryland plan to volunteer again. If you are interested in volunteering or partnering with Operation Oliver, please call or e-mail the organization’s Executive Director, Dave Landymore, at 443-534-8003 or email@example.com
Brittany Scardina, Sr. Community Relations Specialist
Women have stood out in educational attainment; however they have been underrepresented in education and careers in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women (BLSYW) supports young women in expanding their awareness of these fields and more with their annual “Cool Women, Hot Jobs” event. Recently female professionals from BGE had the pleasure of participating in this event to educate and inspire young women to explore educational and career opportunities in STEM. Much to our surprise, we were equally inspired by the enthusiasm and professionalism of these girls in grades 6-9.
It was truly refreshing to interact with the students of BLSYW, listen to their career aspirations and feel their thirst for higher education. We felt privileged to have been given the opportunity to speak to these girls about our own career paths. It was moving to answer questions and to witness their dedication to their studies. We shared personal stories about what sparked our interests in pursuing our fields, our educational training and even the obstacles that we had to overcome in order to reach our goals. The clear message we wanted to send was that of encouragement – to never give up on your dreams despite what may stand in your way.
This message is especially relevant in the STEM fields. While the academic requirements may be challenging, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, STEM fields have been steadily increasing and are projected to double in growth by 2018. The women of BGE helped reinforce this concept by providing hands on experience to excite the girls about technology. Many girls put the pedal to the metal on BGE’s “energy bike” to demonstrate the energy savings of using a compact florescent light bulb (CFL) verses an incandescent bulb. After participating in the activity, it was apparent that a “light” went on not only in the bulbs, but also in the minds of the girls when they were able to understand the concept of energy efficiency.
BLSYW’s “Cool Women, Hot Jobs” event was not only a success for the students, but also for the women who were fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to interact with such enlightening young women. In addition to BGE, many other women from the public and private sectors were represented including: architects, attorneys, engineers, entrepreneurs, executives, hospitality, media, the professional sports industry and scientists. We look forward to having the students of the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women as our leaders of tomorrow.
For more information on BGE’s commitment to educational initiatives, visit www.bge.com
. To view photos from the event, visit BGE’s Flickr site
Chanel Rhoads-Reed, Sr. Community Relations Specialist
BGE believes in education and personal development. Through employee volunteer efforts and contributions, we support various programs that aim to provide educational assistance and opportunities to those that need it most.
Recently, BGE was a proud sponsor of The South Baltimore Learning Center’s (SBLC) annual fundraising gala. This year’s theme was 'That's Amore' … The Love of Learning. The South Baltimore Learning Center (SBLC) is a community based nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the self-sufficiency of educationally disadvantaged adults. At the Center and off-site, adult learners can attend classes in Adult Basic Education (ABE), Pre-GED and GED instruction, or for beginning readers the center offers weekly one-to-one tutoring sessions.
At the event, beneficiaries of the
organization proudly shared stories of accomplishment and triumph over both uncontrolled obstacles and unfortunate decisions that at one time restricted them from achieving important goals in their life – such as attaining a basic high school education. One person after the next, individuals declared how the SBLC helped guide them to learning how to fulfill their desires through hard work and access to information. One woman expressed her appreciation for her second chance at life as she completed her school education and opened her own business - a coffee shop in Baltimore City. Now she’s able to support herself and her family. Her story, which earned a standing ovation, showed everyone in the room how hard work and persistence pays off in the end.
BGE recognizes the importance of community responsibility and the impact that nonprofits and volunteer groups can make in the lives of not just individuals, but entire communities. Through our giving and our volunteer programs, we hope to create long-lasting relationships and long-lasting change – and in our opinion, education support is truly a long lasting contribution. It was an honor for BGE to offer support to help the SBLC continue their goal of assisting adult learners earn their high school diploma.
We look forward to hearing more great stories come out of this organization and helping as we can.
Sara Pyrant, Forester
As customers, their families and neighborhoods shake off winter and look forward to spring’s new beginnings, BGE is also sharing in the excitement with the announcement of a new tree giveaway program. Through our coordination with the Arbor Day Foundation, we plan to give more than 9,000 trees to customers in an effort to promote a greener and more energy-efficient environment.
For some time, it’s been well-known that trees help to beautify landscapes and improve the air quality of a community; but did you know that they also help to reduce energy use? It’s true. By providing shade during the hotter months and a wind block during colder months, strategically placed trees can help add to the energy saving measures you might already incorporate such as insulation and sealing windows and doors. In some cases a properly planted and located tree can reduce a customer’s annual energy use by as much as 30 percent.
We encourage customers to take advantage of BGE’s Energy Saving Tree Program, and tell friends and neighbors who live in the BGE service territory. To reserve a tree and learn more, visit www.arborday.org/BGE
. While on the site, you can order up to two trees (as supply last) to include a number of Maryland native species including:
- American Hophornbeam
- American Hornbeam
- Eastern Redbud
- Flowering Dogwood
- Willow Oak
Each tree will come with standard tree planting instructions, a map of the designated planting site (in order to increase energy efficiency) and important reminders to never plant near overhead power lines and always call Miss Utility at 811 before digging and planting.
Together, with our customers and the Arbor Day Founation, we’re hoping to help beautify and add energy efficiency to central Maryland.
Melissa Cheek, Corporate Social Responsibility Specialist
Last week, BGE employee volunteers gave up their office and field equipment for shovels and rakes and gathered in the Oliver neighborhood of Baltimore City to help beautify the area through trash removal, painting, planting and building. Combining efforts, BGE employees worked with members of the community and other volunteer groups, led by local non-profit organization the 6th Branch
, to help build and restore green space and clear away debris.
BGE recognizes the importance of being active members of the communities we serve. As such, many employees regularly find ways to contribute both their time and labor to help others. They also serve on boards and look for ways to involve friends, family and co-workers to maximize the response and expand relationships within the community.
Not only do these outreach projects help us and our customers learn more about each other, but we’re finding that these projects also help communities learn more about themselves – as neighbors who work alongside each other to meet a common objective. Last week’s effort included the clearing of an empty lot, which we helped to convert into a bike trail for children; and the development of a community flower
garden and park for residents to enjoy with their family and friends. Our hope is that these new outdoor areas give children and families in the neighborhood an opportunity to continue to strengthen bonds and build on community pride.
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