Bob Oberle, Sr. Community Relations Specialist
The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970, with approximately 20 million Americans participating in environmental activities or marching peacefully in favor of environmental reform. Earth day is now observed in almost 200 countries and celebrated by more than a billion people every year. Many communities now celebrate Earth Week, and in fact, much of the month of April focuses on environmental issues that the world faces.
The familiar saying, “Think Globally, Act Locally” encourages people to take action in their own communities in grassroots efforts to preserve their local environment for future generations. BGE and its employees have been committed to improving the environment in the communities we serve for many years. This includes promoting and educating customers about energy efficiency, partnering with communities in neighborhood and park clean-ups, and protecting wildlife habitats.
This year, BGE employees exhibited at several “Green Expos”, sharing information about energy efficiency, conservation, and BGE programs which save customers energy and money. Hands-on volunteerism also included partnering with the Audubon Society in sprucing up an area in Patterson Park, planting a community garden with the Community Action Council of Howard County, and participating in an area school Earth Day Exposition. It is particularly rewarding to see students, who are the future caretakers of the planet, become engaged at an early age.
As environmental stewardship is one of BGE’s core values, each year BGE awards grants to organizations who initiate projects dealing with green space preservation, wetlands restoration and habitat protection.
Other projects eligible for grants include education about the environment, energy efficiency, and community engagement such as neighborhood and park cleanups, and pollution reduction.
The BGE Green Grants Program opened on April 1, 2016, with grants ranging from $1000 to $10,000. Any 501c3 nonprofit organizations within the BGE service territory which have programs that demonstrate a commitment to environmental improvements in the community are eligible to apply.
Applications for The Green Grants program must be received by May 16, 2016. Eligible organizations may apply online at www.bge.com/giving.
Ingrid D. Woods, Sr. Community Relations Specialist
On a brisk Saturday morning in April, BGE was among 50 volunteers from local businesses that partnered with Better Business Bureau (BBB) at its 9th Annual Shred Day. The goal of Shred Day was to bring about awareness to identity theft by inviting the public and business communities to shred up to three containers of sensitive documents per vehicle.
The free event drew over 1,600 cars, SUV’s, vans and trucks carrying personal documents.
They lined up simultaneously at the Timonium Fairgrounds and at Corporate Place in White Marsh.
Iron Mountain, a company that is AAA certified by the National Association for Information Destruction, was tasked with shredding 38.2 tons of documents at both locations. Since 100% of paper documents were recycled, over 300 trees in the forest were saved based on a Sierra Club article. As indicated on the organization’s website, the Sierra Club is the nation’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization with more than 2 million members and supporters.
Volunteers did everything from managing the flow of traffic to receiving documents from customers to distributing recycled bags with identity theft information and giveaways. So, why were BGE employees on hand to support Shred Day? We were there for the following reasons:
BGE understands the important role that protecting the environment plays in every aspect of business. We have a longstanding commitment to protect and enhance the environment in the communities around us. As a result, we also support and applaud the initiatives of individuals and corporations that share the same values including BBB.
BGE has an Employee Resource Group, Eco-Team Baltimore, whose mission is to “promote, support and drive implementation of ‘green’ business practices that are good for the company and good for employees, contractors and their families.”
Lastly, to provide great customer service. BGE takes pride in providing excellent customer service in many aspects—speaking with customers on the telephone, engaging with customers while delivering presentations, representing the company at community events and even volunteering at Shred Days.
To get more information about BBB serving Greater Maryland, visit bbb.org/greater-maryland and for more about other BGE volunteer events, visit bge.com/ourcommitments.
Robert Matthews, Sr. Manager Talent Management
On April 1, BGE announced the launch of the Smart Energy Workforce Development program, a joint effort with local workforce development agencies and vocational schools to increase awareness of job opportunities and hiring requirements at BGE.
At our kick-off summit, Calvin G. Butler Jr., CEO of BGE, expressed to over 30 organizations from central Maryland, our efforts to increase the applicant pool for the BGE Utility Trainee program. The program helps entry-level employees develop the fundamental skills needed to work safely on our company’s natural gas and electric systems. He acknowledged that we are not seeing the pool of entry-level employees that reflects the BGE community, and also acknowledged there are a variety of challenges citizens face, from socio-economic issues to insufficient exposure to these opportunities.
The summit was focused on addressing some of those challenges. To do so, BGE has committed to helping governmental and nonprofit workforce organizations and vocational schools prepare individuals for the Construction and Skilled Trade (CAST) test, a utility industry standard that is a first step on the path to a career in energy. Furthermore, BGE will be providing train-the-trainer workshops to prepare these organizations’ instructors for leading the Test Preparation Course. These efforts will allow organizations to learn how they can help individuals be better prepared job applicants.
Some additional highlights from the summit included OneBaltimore Chair and BGE Board Member Michael Cryor discussing how access to skilled jobs with competitive pay and benefits is a critical component to empowering local residents to contribute to the local economy. In addition, participants were moved by the words of Tamika Stephens, Utility Trainee graduate, who shared her experience in the Utility trainee program and
expressed how rewarding it was to be member of the BGE workforce. The summit also included a tour of the White Marsh Training Center as well as an informational session with the human resources department about job requirements and career opportunities.
As we strive to accomplish our goal of increasing the diverse pool of job candidates, I look forward to sharing how we are providing more opportunities for high school students and recent graduates to gain hands-on experience through internships and apprenticeships. It is important to us that BGE is viewed not just a potential employer but a community and civic partner as well.
Michael Davenport, Manager, Community Affairs
At BGE, the safety of our customers and employees is our first priority and a core value. BGE is committed to providing a safe and healthy work environment for our employees through frequent and extensive safety training and opportunities. That commitment also transcends to the communities we serve by offering safety and energy savings tips and information to our customers.
Earlier this month, BGE served as an exhibitor and sponsor
of the B’More Healthy Expo Safety Zone held at the Baltimore Convention Center. Among our goals for participating in the B’More Healthy expo is to help the public make the connection between safety and wellness and realize, much like our employees, that being safe requires not only thought, but action.
With the continued growth and success of B’More Healthy expo, the event now boasts over 120,000 square feet of exhibit space to accommodate over 165 exhibitors. This year approximately 34,000 visitors attended. With this year being BGE’s 200th anniversary, our exhibit featured a walk through time where we featured a few prominent developments which helped establish and shape the industry and the direction of our company.
During the expo, BGE representatives enjoyed interacting with customers and visitors to our exhibit space as well as discussing our programs, services and practical tips for using energy safely and efficiently. Many of the visitors to our exhibit area where intrigued by some of the artifacts on display including a section of gas pipe made out of wood before the introduction of cast iron pipes.
This was displayed beside the new state of the art durable plastic
pipe being used today. Our display also included a gas meter dating back to 1844 and an electric meter from the early 1900’s alongside a modern day smart meter. We also displayed copies of stock certificates issued in 1818 and 1851 as well as copies of gas bills from the early 1900’s. These items were quite the conversation starters and many visitors commented how our exhibited felt like they were visiting a museum.
Perhaps more important, our exhibit illustrated how the company and industry is continually evolving to improve the safety, reliability and efficiency of operations to better serve our customers. As we continue to celebrate our 200th anniversary throughout this year, we hope to share with you interesting information and factoids about BGE and the industry. Baltimore has much to be proud of and one of those points of pride is being a city of many firsts of which BGE is one among many.
Ward Tucker, President, Tucker Construction Group
I recently went to Annapolis to share my views on the STRIDE bills being reviewed in the House (HB546) and Senate (SB510). I did so as the owner of a construction business that installs natural gas and electric equipment.
What I wanted the delegates and senators to understand is simple: STRIDE works.
I know this because my company has been working for Maryland utilities for more than 20 years. In the last three years since the first STRIDE law was passed to upgrade gas mains more quickly, I’ve added jobs to keep pace with work. We’ve grown from 50 employees to 250 employees. This is just on the gas side of my business.
These are good jobs employing people from our own communities. We’re teaching new skills that employees can further build into careers. We need this, and as an employer I get to see the power of what jobs like this can do for a person, a family, and a neighborhood. It’s powerful for kids to be able to see their fathers and mothers wearing work boots, hard hats and safety vests and knowing they can provide for their family.
As important as the jobs are, it’s just been an added benefit of STRIDE. The legislation is about improving utility services for customers. I get to see that too. In the neighborhoods where we work, residents are grateful for the upgrades that are taking place.
We do a lot of work converting overhead electric lines to underground. This makes them less susceptible to outages from weather and trees. We hear from customers all the time who are happy that the work we’re doing is making a difference in improving service reliability. I look forward to the new STRIDE legislation giving us more ability to help make electricity customers’ lives better too.
I’m not the only company that knows the STRIDE model works. If it means jobs for Tucker Construction, it can mean expansion for other companies too, including minority business enterprises like mine.
That is why I share my views in Annapolis, and I want utility customers to understand as well. STRIDE works. Let your elected officials know we need to pass the STRIDE bill.
Stephen J. Woerner, President and Chief Operating Officer, BGE
The General Assembly is considering legislation that would greatly benefit Maryland energy customers if passed. It is important for you to understand it and how it can benefit you. I’m referring to House Bill 546 and Senate Bill 510 that make it possible for utilities to modernize the electric grid and gas system and bring benefits to customers.
Why is this important to BGE and to our customers? Because of our commitment to improving performance and operating more efficiently. This legislation would enable us to do exactly that: deliver safer, more reliable service to customers.
We know this is possible because the legislation follows a proven model. Maryland passed a similar law in 2013—known as STRIDE—designed to modernize the natural gas system. In the first two years under STRIDE, BGE replaced 61 miles of aging gas pipes. This has been a dramatic increase in the speed of this much needed and important work. The bills in Annapolis now would make it possible to start upgrading even more of the gas system than we are today.
The new legislation also applies the same STRIDE model to electric grid modernization, limiting the scope and duration of power outages. We have made good progress on improving electric service reliability. Today, our customers experience 43 percent fewer outages than 10 years ago, and when power is out we are restoring service 38 percent faster than before. But there is always more work to be done. In addition to replacing equipment—poles and wires, for instance—we can also deploy the latest technologies to help us quickly identify damaged equipment and route power around it to limit disturbance while repairs are made.
This type of work requires investment, but this is not an added cost for customers. These are investments utilities must make. What the STRIDE model does is to make it possible to recover those investments as the work is performed. You know the benefit of paying as you go versus waiting—more gradual payments and a strong credit rating that can help to reduce finance costs over the long term.
Most importantly, these bills offer other critical consumer protections. The Maryland Public Service Commission reviews all STRIDE infrastructure investment plans before any work is done, with the ability to accept, reject or alter any plan. The PSC checks progress and results. The law also includes caps on the charges for residential customers.
For all of these reasons and especially because this is a proven model already benefitting our customers, we support this legislation. It will help Maryland continue to take strides toward having a more reliable and modern energy network.
Allyson Black, State Affairs Manager Governmental & External Affairs
When I walked into the class room and she spotted me with lit up eyes, sprinting in my direction to greet me with a great big hug, I was once again reminded of why I serve. She is the student I began tutoring in 2014, at Arundel Elementary School every Monday morning through Reading Partners Baltimore.
Reading Partners is a national education focused nonprofit organization. With the service of community volunteers, they help students at under-resourced schools improve their reading skills.
A new school year began in the fall of 2015, and that moment I previously described was the first day back to our Reading Partners tutoring sessions. When I learned about Reading Partners I knew it was an organization that I needed to be a part of, and it has proven to be a gift that provides immeasurable satisfaction and fulfillment. My part is easy. I start my week by not only helping a child improve her literacy and reading skills, but by also having an opportunity to mentor and develop a bond that lets her know that she is important, and her success is of my concern.
This year, Reading Partners aims to do this for 775 students in 14 schools with the support of 850 community volunteers. The need is real. In Maryland, 9 out of 10 fourth graders from low-income families cannot read at grade level. Children who cannot read proficiently by the fourth grade are four times less likely to graduate on time, which hinders their chances to succeed in college and beyond. Last year, 90 percent of Reading Partners students increased their monthly rate of learning. Additionally, 70 percent of the students narrowed their literacy gap with peers who read at grade level, and eight out of 10 emerging readers mastered key foundational literacy skills.
The opportunity to mentor and assist a child’s academic improvement and increased confidence is a unique and exceptional quality that Reading Partners provides. I am thankful that BGE also sees the value of this opportunity and provides its employees with the ability to give back to the community. We all can be great, because we all can serve.
If you are interested in learning more about Reading Partners, please contact Allyson Black at email@example.com or 410.269.5286.
Faviola Donato-Galindo, Sr. Community Relations Specialist
At BGE we understand that education has the power to change lives and improve our communities. Through our civic and charitable engagement we continue to strengthen our relationships with schools in our service territory.
Throughout the year, our educational outreach provided an opportunity for BGE to be part of the learning ecosystem by bringing their experience and knowledge to fundamental concepts in the areas of science, technology, engineering, math and arts.
Many of our linemen visited schools to teach children about electricity and safety around power lines. The bucket truck was a learning tool, as linemen showed how they work safely around power lines. They answered student-questions about electricity and helped them try on safety gear including hard hats, rubber gloves, arm protector sleeves and safety glasses.
Last summer, engineers supported the Summer Innovation Academy at MacArthur Middle School in Fort Meade. Students worked in teams to build wooden communities and determine whether to use hydroelectric, solar or wind to power four homes in their towns. BGE engineers helped students understand the transformation of energy into electricity and how to connect and power their wooden communities via a series of battery powered circuits.
BGE also brought the learning outside of the classroom through tours of the White Marsh Utility Training Center and Spring Gardens Gas Facility. Students were able to learn firsthand about the skilled labor required to reliably and safely deliver natural gas and electric to BGE customers.
These are a few highlights of the many ways BGE supports education. We look forward to continue supporting and cultivating learning opportunities for students from all backgrounds and communities and contribute to a strong economy for Maryland.
To request a school presentation or BGE participation at your school event
, email us
r call 410-470-4103. You can also complete the online request form or call 410-470-4103. You can also complete the online request form
Happy New Year!
Chanel Rhoads-Reed, Senior Community Relations Specialist
BGE recently had the honor of delivering an energy conservation presentation for seniors at the first Lunch and Learn for The LGBT Health Resource Center located in the Chase Brexton’s Mount Vernon Center. The Lunch and Learn presentations are designed to bring together LGBT adults over 50 years old, LGBT caregivers, and individuals caring for LGBT older adults, with representatives from the SAGECAP (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders Caring and Preparing) program.
BGE’s Employee Resource Group, Exelon Pride Baltimore offered to participate in a series of monthly Lunch and Learn workshops that is part of the SAGECAP program, which provides LGBT older adults and caregivers with community resources and aging services.
“This is a perfect example of how employee resource groups provide benefit to BGE from a business perspective in addition to internally. The relationship Pride Baltimore established with Chase Brexton enabled the company to broaden its community outreach efforts. It is a true win-win.” said BGE’s Ron Hokemeyer, Principal Change Consultant and member of Exelon Pride Baltimore.
During the presentation the attendees had an opportunity to learn a variety of powerful ways to save energy, money and the environment mainly through basic small behavioral changes, such as resetting their thermostats to the recommended ideal temperatures (68° in the winter and 78° in the summer).
The attendees were also educated on some of BGE’s energy efficiency programs, such as the Quick Home Energy Check Up. This is a program that is offered to all BGE customers. It’s a fast, easy way to save money by increasing the energy efficiency of your home. Learn more at www.BGEsmartenergy.com/Residential/Quick-Home-Energy-Check
“BGE is the first company to provide services specifically targeting LGBT older adults in Maryland and we are so happy to have you involved!” said Bethany Henderson, Program Manager of the SAGECAP program. Bethany’s main goal for the Lunch and Learns is to bring more exposure to this overlooked demographic in the LGBT community. She also believes these seminars will bring together community members in a safe environment where they can gather and become better acquainted.
If you would like to learn more about the LGBT Health Resource Center
please visit their website at LGBT Health Resource Center. For more information on BGE energy efficiency programs please visit our website at BGESmartEnergy.
Chanel Rhoads-Reed, Senior Community Relations Specialist
BGE had the wonderful opportunity to connect with over 75 children ranging from kindergarten to 5th grade, representing three Boys and Girls Clubs of Harford County for “Captain Mercaptan Action Day” at the Boys and Girls Club of Harford County Edgewood branch. During Action Day, children learned about natural gas safety through a series of fun-filled activities. Activity stations and games included a comic book reading corner, action book coloring area, good smells vs. bad smells challenge and power play appliance identification game. The children also had the opportunity to meet and interact with BGE’s gas safety hero, Captain Mercaptan.
The children had a great time with the numerous activities that were provided throughout the event and learned a few valuable lessons about natural gas safety along the way.
- In Captain Mercaptan’s Comic Book Corner, children got to read the newly released “Iron Man featuring Captain Mercaptan in a Natural Team”, a comic book BGE released with Marvel which was distributed to all students in third through fifth grade in central Maryland.
- The Action Book Area allowed children to color and complete gas-related activities in the Action Book.
- The Good Smell vs. Bad Smell Challenge provided the children with multiple good smells and bad smells in a jar and the children had the challenge of identifying the good smells vs. bad smells and the smell of “mercaptan” the additive that BGE and other gas utilities add to naturally odorless natural gas to make it detectable by scent.
- The Power Play game helped children identify household items and appliances that either use gas or electric.
Captain Mercaptan Action Day at the Boys & Girls Club of Harford County presented the chance for us to educate children about a topic they might otherwise never learn about – natural gas safety. With over 650,000 natural gas customers in central Maryland, it’s important for us to make sure that even our youngest customers are familiar with natural gas and know what to do should a natural gas emergency occur.
“Hosting Captain Mercaptan Action Day with the Boys & Girls Club of Harford County was a great way for us to teach young children about natural gas. Kids are oftentimes more observant to things that adults overlook and can alert their parents to potential dangers if they understand them better. At BGE, we teach natural gas safety to children so they know what to do if they ever detect natural gas and they can be their own super hero, just like Captain Mercaptan.” says Faviola Donato-Galindo, Senior Community Relations Specialist.
This was just one of several events that BGE anticipates hosting to continue to educate young children about natural gas safety. For more photos of Captain Mercaptan Action Day visit flickr.com/photos/mybge and if you would like to learn more about natural gas safety and Captain Mercaptan, please visit www.BGE.com/CaptainMercaptan.
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