Chanel Rhoads-Reed, Senior Community Relations Specialist
Due to the extremely cold winter which has resulted in high energy usage and higher than usual utility bills for customers, BGE held several energy assistance events throughout Baltimore City to assist and educate customers about financial assistance available to them. The State and City Maryland Office of Home Energy Programs, The Maryland Fuel Fund and The Community Action Network also participated in this BGE proactive initiative to help communicate, educate and dispel the misconceptions energy assistance programs.
“Large segments of our customer base who qualify for energy assistance do not apply due to a variety of reasons including misinformation. The most inaccurate information we heard from our customers is that they believe they need to have a shut off notice in order to apply for a grant which is completely untrue. Our goal for these events was to help our customers secure assistance for paying their utility bills as well as educate them about the resources available to help those in need,” said David Conn, Energy Assistance Program Manager.
One common reason why customers do not apply for grants is because they believe they are over the income guideline which in some cases is not true. For an example, a family with a household size of four can qualify for assistance if their monthly income does not exceed $3,434.37 or $41,212.50 annually. Another reason why customers do not apply is because they believe they have already applied for the “program year”. The program year is based on a fiscal year (July-June) and not on a calendar year (Jan- Dec.). These are just a few examples of some of the inaccurate information that prevents some customers from applying for energy assistance.
BGE also had the opportunity to educate customers about some of the energy efficiency programs available to them. One of our most popular energy efficiency programs is the “Quick Home Energy Check Up”. It’s a fast, easy way to save money by increasing the energy efficiency of your home. An energy expert inspects your home and recommends ways to improve efficiency. With your permission, they install energy-saving items such as CFLs, faucet aerators, efficient-flow showerheads, electric water heater tank wrap, and smart strips at no additional cost to our customer.
BGE will continue to educate its customers about these energy efficiency and limited income programs via their website, community events and future participation with community agencies and associations within our territory. “It is our goal to educate our customers about the financial assistance and energy efficiency programs that are available to them,” said Michael Davenport, Manager of Community Affairs.
For more information about energy assistance please visit your local Maryland Office of Home Energy Programs office. If you’re interested in a Quick Home Energy Check Up please call 877-685-7377 to schedule an appointment.
Brent Whitty, Utility Trainee
BGE’s central Maryland service area has been impacted this winter by several snow and ice storms that caused extensive damage to trees, tree limbs and electrical equipment. BGE crews worked around-the-clock in challenging conditions to restore customers as quickly and safely as possibly. While doing so, our crews received many encouraging words from customers on social media and while on the job.
I was among those working long hours to restore power to customers. Normally we work from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., but during the recent ice storm we worked 16 hour shifts. To keep my energy up during a long shift, I start off with a good night sleep, a good meal and I pack snacks to eat in between jobs. The adrenaline rush also keeps us going.
The toughest challenge on the job was the ice buildup on trees and trees limbs which caused the branches to fall, tearing down power lines as they fell. Moving around in the snow and ice was not a breeze either. Fortunately, no one was injured as BGE lineworkers go through extensive training to ensure they are working as safely as possible.
Besides these challenges, we also had good experiences. While on a job, people stopped to thank us and asked if we needed anything. They would come back with something to eat and drink. On Main Street in the Manchester area, we were just finishing a downed wire job affecting 150 to 200 customers. As we got in the truck, a car pulled up and three ladies got out with bags. There was hot soup in one bag, cups and spoons in the other, and a third bag filled with bottled water. We really appreciate that and it pushes us to work harder than we already do.
I’m a utility trainee and I have already developed a passion for what I do. The encouragement and support from customers certainly adds to it. Thank you to our customers for your patience and understanding during this winter’s challenging weather conditions and storms.
David Conn, Manager of Energy Assistance
The problem of homelessness may not cross your “radar screen” very much. But with more than 2,600 people counted as homeless in Baltimore City alone, according to the most recent survey, the issue has ripple effects that touch the lives of everyone in our region.
Housing providers and shelter operators report that more and more families have been showing up at shelters in recent years. Imagine trying to provide for your children, helping them stay healthy and succeed in school, without a roof over their heads. Their struggles ultimately impact the health and economic welfare of our entire community.
So when an individual or a family has found their way to a housing provider that can help them exit homelessness, we all have a stake in ensuring their success. At BGE, we want to make sure that a past utility bill does not represent the sole stumbling block that keeps anyone from setting up a new residence and working their way toward self-sufficiency.
That’s why we were proud to work with the City of Baltimore and the Fuel Fund of Maryland to create the Power of Home program. Some people who are ready to exit homelessness find they cannot move in to a new home because a past-due utility bill prevents them from starting new service. Rather than asking these individuals to find and make their way to the many providers of energy assistance, the Power of Home program brings all of the providers to the individual, which dramatically reduces the amount of time needed to address any outstanding issues.
This program brings different resources to bear to address these obstacles and help people establish a new home – including help from the City of Baltimore, the Fuel Fund, the Journey Home campaign, and the Harry & Jeannette Weinberg Foundation, as well as BGE.
As Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said at an event to announce the program, “This is a powerful example of the Baltimore community coming together to assist our most vulnerable residents.”
At BGE, we don’t view this program as a handout. Rather we view it as a modest hand up to those who have taken the initiative to make a better life for themselves and their families. In the end, that’s good for everyone.
Carol Dodson, Vice President, Customer Operations & Chief Customer Officer
As the impending snow storm makes its way closer to our service territory, BGE is readying to assist customers and restore possible system damage and outages.
Not only have we brought on additional resources, we’ve also proactively reached out to customers to remind them that they should prepare as well. One of the ways you and your family can better weather the storm is to review your emergency preparedness plan together. Be prepared for the possibility of extended power outages.
Special Needs customers
who depend on electricity for medical requirements should also prepare by having battery backups, a safe-operating generator or another location to wait out the storm and power restoration period – which could take several days, depending on the amount of damage inflicted on our equipment and overall distribution system.
Customers using a generator
or space heater should follow manufacturer instructions and be sure to locate generators in well-ventilated areas. Any customers using generators or portable heaters should carefully follow all safety instructions from the manufacturer. Improper use of this equipment or other appliances can result in potentially deadly carbon monoxide poisoning, fire or other dangerous conditions.
If you do experience a power outage, please report it online
or call our automated outage reporting system at 1.877.778.2222. Both methods notify us of your location and help us possibly identify where the storm damage might exist. Please don’t assume we know about your outage or that other neighbors have called to report the power being out. As always, we ask that customers only call once to keep lines free.
Once the storm has passed and it is safe to begin the restoration process, our crews will work safely torestore your power as quickly as possible. Our restoration priorities always begin with public safety issues and critical facilities, such as 911 centers, hospitals and pumping stations. We typically then schedule efforts so that the greatest number of customers can be restored.
As we work to get through this storm together, we will also do our best to keep you informed along the way. For information concerning our preparation or outages and restoration updates, stay tuned to the news, visit our Storm Center page
or follow us on Twitter
Kenneth W. DeFontes Jr., President and CEO
Eager parents, smiling teachers and faculty and hundreds of exuberant children packed the Immaculate Conception School’s auditorium in Towson last Thursday as we announced their winning of the second annual BGE Wires Down Video Challenge.
I couldn’t have been more proud to present the $10,000 prize and share the stage with those 10 children and the staff and parent who helped produce such a creative rendition of our classic Wires Down
commercial. The thunderous applause and cheers they received for their hard work was not only inspiring and well-deserved, but it also illustrated a community’s appreciation and understanding of the significance of this vital safety program.
When we first launched the Wires Down Video challenge in 2012, we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of creativity that schools poured into their 30 to 45 second productions. With puppet characters, hip hop remixes and inventive backdrops, and costumes, the students set a high bar of excellence and imagination that was matched by this year’s 22 participating schools. This year’s group of submissions
included a comic book theme, a video made entirely of pipe cleaners, a Wizard of Oz storyline and many more unique and clever renditions that attracted more than 40,000 online votes, all of which helps to spread a very simple, yet important safety message – never touch a downed wire.
At BGE, safety is at the core of everything we do. From the work we do in the office to the outdoors, we want every employee to manage their tasks safely – for themselves and co-workers. We also want to help our customers, the general public and especially children to be safe around our electric and natural gas equipment. From the dozens of safety presentations our linemen deliver in schools, to the educational games we provide online
, our commitment to safety is second to none. And judging by the number of participating schools, video views and online votes we’ve gathered since the challenges’ inception, we’re pleased to know our commitment to safety is shared by the community we serve.
As we wrap up the 2013 Wires Down Video Challenge, I want to once again congratulate the Immaculate Conception School on their grand prize win, as well as the other nine winning finalists for their entries. To all the schools, teachers and parents that participated in this year’s program, helping thousands of children to be safe, thank you. Your involvement helps makes this program better each year. And for those of you who are looking for additional ways to spread safety information and win funding for your school, I encourage you to learn about our newest gas safety educational program Captain Mercaptan. Visit www.gashero.com
for more information.
At home, work or play, make Zero accidents/injuries your goal every day.
Bill Wolf, Manager Energy Efficient Programs
When hearing the phrase “energy efficiency”, most people think of things like LED lighting or occupancy sensors. These are great ways to improve energy efficiency in a business environment but when you look at energy efficiency on a larger scale, lighting represents a small fraction of consumed energy. Other sources of significant energy savings come through more robust measures, such as with Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems. CHP is an efficient way to generate heat and electricity from a single fuel source, such as natural gas. More than two thirds, nearly 65 percent, of the fuel used to generate power in the U.S. is lost as heat. CHP recovers that wasted heat, which is then used to produce electrical and/or mechanical power. Improved energy efficiency, lower energy costs and cleaner power are just some of the benefits of CHP. And, many businesses have great opportunities to produce energy from waste heat.
So, here’s how CHP, sometimes called co-generation, works. A CHP system, an example of which is pictured below, is installed at or near a facility. The system provides at least a portion of a facility’s electrical load by capturing heat from hot exhaust gases; then that heat, or thermal energy, is used for things such as space heating, cooling, domestic hot water, dehumidification and/or process heating.
Reducing the cost of energy is a huge financial benefit of CHP for many businesses because less money is then spent on fuel. Additionally, the higher level of energy efficiency created by CHP helps to reduce greenhouse gasses and ease congestion of the electric grid, thereby, improving power reliability. And, if outside circumstances, such as bad weather, cause widespread power outages, with a CHP system you wouldn’t be without access to at least some power.
Many different types of facilities, from chemical plants and hospitals to hotels and schools, are operating CHP systems. Generally, a facility has a good chance of benefiting from installing a CHP system if it has long operating hours, a high need for energy reliability and a significant demand for power and heating.
BGE’s CHP Program offers incentives of up to $2 million per qualifying project on a first-come-first-serve basis to BGE industrial, commercial, institutional, nonprofit and governmental electric service customers interested in installing CHP systems at their facilities. To date, BGE has had nearly 20 businesses apply to participate in the CHP program, which is on track to disburse more than $7.2 million in financial incentives amongst the businesses that have received pre-approval for their CHP projects.
Find out about how you could get up to $2 million dollars in incentives for your CHP project through BGE’s Combined Heat and Power Program at http://www.bgesmartenergy.com/business/chp.
Carol Dodson, Vice President, Customer Operations & Chief Customer Officer
Last week’s polar vortex that extended from the mid-west through the east coast made Tuesday, Baltimore's coldest day in nearly 20 years. With temperatures and a wind chill reaching several degrees below zero, it was critical for utilities to ensure the region’s electric supply was ample to keep families warm. To ensure the safe and reliable delivery of energy – especially during extreme weather - not only is it critical to perform year-round maintenance and upgrades of our system, but regular communications with our customers and voluntary participation in our demand response programs are also key.
BGE employees prepare for
major weather events every year. We inspect our equipment and participate in emergency drills to increase our readiness for weather such as blizzards, hurricanes, and heat waves. With all the preparation we take in advance, we recognize and prefer to keep the system running than to have to send hundreds of crews out to restore power during storms or other weather events. Communicating with our customers is a practical way to help keep our system in safe operation. And with advancements in technology, such as smart meters, wireless mobile, and social media, it is now more possible than ever for utilities to communicate and work together with customers to maintain the flow of energy.
Exchanging information with our customers helps us provide preparation tips for extreme weather, and helps customers alert us of outages, downed wires and other trouble spots. New technology, and innovative programs such as our PeakRewards demand response program allows us to help customers save energy during critical times to reduce the potential for widespread outages due to system overload. More than 300,000 customers have enrolled in our summer air condition cycling program and nearly 90,000 customers have volunteered for the PeakRewards Water Heater Cycling
program. During peak times for electric use (first thing in the morning and right after work), PJM Interconnection, the grid operator for the region experienced record-breaking winter electric demand and requested that BGE and other utilities initiate their demand response programs to take strain off the grid. Because of these programs, we and other utilities were able to keep the lights and more importantly the heat on for the vast majority of our customers. To all those that did their part to conserve energy, whether through our demand response programs or by delaying the use of major appliances during peak demand, we thank you for our partnership.
Although we’ve gotten through this vortex, there’s no telling when the next might occur – or for that matter
the next blizzard, ice-storm, etc. We certainly are hoping for mild weather, but we still have more than a few weeks of winter left. With that in mind, I’d like to remind all our customers to ensure your household is ready for extreme weather by preparing a storm kit
. Also be mindful that frigid temperatures put additional stress on your heating system and can cause higher than normal bills. You can minimize the impact of cold weather on bills by increasing your home’s energy efficiency. Sealing cracks and gaps around doors and windows, replacing your filter monthly and conserving energy altogether are some simple ways. Visit our WinterReady
page for more tips.
As we move through the winter season, weather through extreme weather events or hopeful spring-like weather, we’re committed to staying connected with our customers and working together to ensure the safe, efficient and reliable energy service.
Carol Dodson, VP, Customer Operations & Chief Customer Officer
Wishing all our customers a happy and safe 2014. As we move forward in the new year, I’m compelled to take a moment to look at the progress we made last year towards enhancing our service for our customers. At the same time, I see abundant promise for the new year with continuing our advancements to offer more convenience, added savings and increased opportunities to partner with the communities in which we live and work.
Last year, BGE was excited to offer BGE mobile – a convenient and practical way for our customers to connect with us through their mobile device. Customers who prefer to conduct business through their smart phone or tablet can now access their account and get powerful information right at their fingertips – all in a mobile friendly environment. From outage reporting to paying their bill the site provides a variety of functions and saves time for our customers. Another 2013 highlight includes our Smart Grid deployment and the energy management tools it helps to support. Customers who have a smart meter installed and access to BGE Smart Energy Manager® portal can receive real time usage data to help them better manage their energy consumption and costs. As we continue with smart meter installation, more customers will be able to benefit from innovative energy saving programs.
Many customers have taken
advantage of BGE Smart Energy Savers Program®
in recent years, receiving information, rebates and tools to increase energy efficiency. Last year, we introduced BGE Smart Energy Rewards® program which further helped customers save over $7 million in bill credits throughout the summer. Through all of our programs, more than 1.2 billion kWh was reduced by customers through conservation efforts, demand response cycling, using energy- efficient products and more. This goes to show that working together with customers, we’re able to create significant opportunities to save energy, save money and the environment.
Another way we partner with customers
and communities is through our charitable giving and volunteer efforts. Last year, we contributed nearly $3.5 million in charitable giving and our employees provided more than 24,500 hours of community service. All of which goes to supporting our effort toward building into our communities and neighborhoods and strengthening quality of life.
As we spring into 2014, we’re thankful for the partnerships we’re creating and recognize that these accomplishments do not occur without the participation of our customers. Through their involvement we have been able to increase efficiency and help deliver energy safely and help advance our communities. The best is yet to come.
Christie D. McMullen, Chief Safety Officer & Vice President, Support Services
The holiday season is upon us, a time in which we spend with our loved ones and share valued moments. While enjoying these times, safety should be a priority to keep the holidays merry.
The holiday lighting typically go up after Thanksgiving and stay up until after New Year’s. To save money and energy during this period consider using energy efficient LED lighting. It produces less heat, so it’s also safer for daily use. Also before use check all light strands for cracked or broken plugs, frayed insulation or bare wires. Worn cords can cause fires. And always turn off all decorative lighting when leaving the house and before going to bed.
If you’re hanging up holiday themed lighting always check for overhead power lines and stay at least ten feet away from them. Make sure tree limbs have not grown into or near power lines when stringing lights on trees. Branches or entire trees can become energized if they come in contact with a power line. Also double check that the lights you are using are suitable to use outdoor.
Every year there are hundreds of ladder-related injuries in correlation with holiday decorations according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. To prevent falls and injuries while using a ladder maintain three points of contact when ascending and descending. Also make sure that the feet of the l
adder are firmly set and square before climbing. If possible, have a spotter at the base of the ladder. For more tips visit BGE’s Holiday Safety Tips page
However you’re planning to spend the holiday season, we wish you and your family safe and happy holidays.
David Conn, Manager of Energy Assistance
For many the holiday season is a time for showing appreciation, giving gifts and finding ways to help those who are less fortunate.
Throughout the year, BGE and our employees often lend support to nonprofit organizations that work to make our communities a better place to live. Through financial contributions, volunteer services and in-kind donations, we work to give back and build relationships with those we serve. And during the holidays, we work intensely to ensure that our contributions and the relationships we foster are more meaningful.
For example, last week,
BGE employees participated in the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program, where coats, toys and other holiday items were collected and delivered to more than 4,000 children. In weeks prior, BGE volunteers served at Moveable Feast to pack nutritious Thanksgiving meals for hundreds of families throughout Maryland. We also provided the Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Festival of Trees with a $10,000 sponsorship to support awareness and treatment to help children with disabilities. Collectively, contributions in 2013 from BGE – as well as employee contributions through giving campaigns – totaled nearly than $3.5 million
. Our employees also provided more than 24,500
hours for community service.
ust as BGE and its employees take on social responsibility, our customers are also doing their part to assist those less fortunate. One of the ways that we see our customers give is through the Fuel Fund of Maryland
envelope campaign. For nearly 30 years our customers have used the familiar envelopes in their December and January bills to donate more than $8.5 million to help limited-income households pay their home energy bills, and learn ways to reduce their energy usage. A new, easy way to contribute modest amounts to the nonprofit Fuel Fund year-round is BGE’s Dollar Donation Fund
. Other customers have given the Gift of Energy
to help a family member or friend during the holidays. If you’re interested in contributing through these programs, we invite you to learn more
As you prepare to celebrate the holidays, we encourage you to find ways to make a lasting impact on the lives of others. Have a happy, healthy and safe holiday season.
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