Ingrid D. Woods, Sr. Community Relations Specialist
National Night Out (NNO) was introduced by the National Association of Town Watch (NATW) 30 years ago in an effort to promote crime prevention, and to establish solidarity among neighborhoods. NNO has grown tremendously and now involves nearly 38 million people and over 16,000 communities from all 50 states, U.S. Territories, Canada and military bases worldwide. The event is held every year on the first Tuesday in August.
Right here in Maryland, NNO is also alive and well. On August 5, 2014, BGE participated in four NNO events in its service territory including two in Baltimore City (Greater Mondawmin Committee / Mayor’s Office at Mondawmin Mall and the NorthEast Citizens Patrol at Lake Montebello); one in Baltimore County (sponsored by the Halethorpe Civic League at the Halethorpe Civic Center); and one in Carroll County (Sykesville, MD).
Each event was unique and included a multitude of activities, entertainment, demonstrations and resources. BGE representatives enjoyed the opportunity to visit the various neighborhoods and to interact with individuals and families alike. We provided customers information on our various programs and services including energy conservation, Gas and Electric Safety, information on our Smart Energy Savers Program (Peak Rewards, the Quick Home Energy Check-Up and Home Performance with Energy Star), and Smart Meters. Many customers who visited us at the various events signed up for several of our programs and services on-site.
Between January and July 2014, BGE has participated in nearly 90 community events and presentations throughout our service territory. In addition, employees volunteer countless hours to many organizations and programs to help strengthen the community in which we live, work and play.
Bob Oberle, Sr. Community Relations Specialist
Recently BGE’s Community Relations team had the pleasure and privilege of volunteering with Meals on Wheels at their facility and we hope to return soon. BGE has supported Meals on Wheels annually through corporate contributions and volunteerism. For over 50 years, Meals on Wheels has provided nutritious meals to homebound seniors and disabled individuals in Baltimore and counties in the metropolitan area by delivering it right to their doorstep. Meals on Wheels serve people of any age or economic status who are unable to shop for their groceries or prepare their own meals
Supporting Meals on Wheels is part of BGE’s commitment to serving the community to help creat a better quality of life where we live, work and serve. We were honored to help Meals on Wheels staff, volunteers and donors provide food, social and emotional support to clients in need. Each hot meal is well-rounded containing a protein, vegetable and starch. An additional cold meal is also provided each day.
Meals on Wheels also provides a number of support services to their clients that can help them maintain their independence in their own home. For example, these include referrals to outside organizations to reduce isolation felt by clients, providing them with volunteer companions or phone pals. Meals on Wheels staff will also notify emergency contacts if a client unexpectedly fails to answer a door, or if any problems are noticed when the client comes to the door. In addition to meal delivery there is also a grocery shopping program, a service that will deliver groceries to homebound clients.
With a staff of 100 and more than 2,500 volunteers, Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland delivers 700,000 nutritious meals and offers support services to 3,000 home-bound elderly Marylanders each year. In addition to the staff that cook and prepare the meals, last year, volunteers logged over 86,000 hours packing and delivering the meals. Volunteers also drove over 612,000 miles delivering the meals to their homebound clients- a distance equal to 25 times around the world!
BGE employees serve on the boards of directors of more than 120 non-profit organizations. And last year BGE employees volunteered more than 25,000 hours to different organizations and initiatives to help better the community through our Energy for the Community network.
Ammanuel Moore, Economic Development Manager
Have you ever thought about how much work goes into keeping energy flowing across central Maryland? Routine maintenance, system upgrades and the installation of equipment for customers are important responsibilities shared by our 3,400 employees and hundreds of other businesses across Maryland.
The Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore (EAGB) recently published an economic impact study focusing on BGE’s contributions to Maryland’s economy. The findings, which centered on job sustainability, wages, output and state and local tax generation, showed that BGE is a leading economic driver for the state. We invite you to read the full study.
From purchasing gas pipes, utility poles, and hard hats, to ordering printer cartridges, desk chairs, and janitorial services, BGE spends more than $ 1 billion annually. EAGB found that this translates to nearly 6,000 jobs outside of BGE, nearly $187 million in indirect labor income for Maryland families and more than $800 million dollars added to the local economy
This week, economic development professionals representing hundreds of utilities are gathering for the Utility Economic Development Association Forum
in Chicago. The forum will address ways in which utilities can help support local and regional economies through a myriad of efforts offered through theri economic development departments
including supporting businesses with innovative programs, working with government and helping residential customers increase efficiencies to name just a few. BGE will be in attendance to share and learn best practices and bring back ideas to hopefully have a stronger impact on Maryland’s business environment.
As one of Maryland's largest private employers, BGE works with many other businesses in the state, but our economic impact goes beyond just procurement. Our energy management programs and smart grid enhancements help business and residential customers conserve energy and increase efficiencies leading to reduced energy consumption and costs. In fact, through reduced energy consumption and incentive, rebate and bill credit programs, BGE customers saved more than $79 million in 2013. When invested or spent in the local economy, these savings increase productivity, promote job support, and create a thriving economic environment.
With so many businesses and households depending on our service, we recognize that a strong economy is critical to allowing customers to meet their energy needs. We also realize our success as a company is not one dimensional. We are inextricably tied to the well-being of the communities we serve and have a responsibility to give back. As such, BGE believes strongly in corporate citizenship – partnering with the communities we serve through the support of hundreds of non-profit organizations. Last year, through Exelon shareholder funded contributions, we gave $3.5 million dollars to local charities; additionally, our employees provided more than 25,000 community service hours.
On June 17, 2016, BGE will turn 200 years old. As the oldest gas utiilty in the country and one of Maryland's longest-running businesses, we remain committed to providing our customers with safe and reliable electric and natural gas service. We're also just as committed to working with the business community, assisting our customers to help them maximize their energy savings and applying our resources to help strengthen Maryland’s economy and its communities.
Jasmine Harley, Social Media Intern
As the conditions of the environment and our economy become more challenged, the automotive industry is adapting and providing innovative solutions -- alternative fuel vehicles.
Alternative fuel vehicles vary in the energy they use, the way they save energy and how much they save. All electric vehicles, not to be confused with hybrid vehicles, have the biggest impact regarding energy use and environmental benefits. As electric vehicles become more adopted by everyday consumers, manufacturers are making more options available for commercial vehicle operators who can also see the potential for this rising technology.
For decades, all-electric mass transit has been a part of most major metro areas, including street cars, light rails and subways that have helped millions of commuters travel to work and other local destinations. Now with more sophisticated batteries and storage devices, buses are exploring electric alternatives and are already claiming benefits for the companies and the communities they serve.
Recently Protera, a zero-emissions vehicle manufacturing company, came to Baltimore to showcase their all-electric bus technology. My colleagues and I had the pleasure of boarding one of their buses and learning firsthand about how their technology operates and the benefits they provide. From an environmental perspective, electric buses produce zero tailpipe emissions. Transportation is the second largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Department of Transportation. Replacing our conventional buses with electric versions could eliminate a substantial source of greenhouse gases.
An additional benefit is the fact that electric buses are less costly to operate. They have fewer parts than conventional buses, thereby reducing the overall cost of maintenance and service. Although the initial purchasing price is typically more than traditional buses, the cost is usually offset by low maintenance and fuel cost savings. Furthermore, the lower weight all-electric buses will decrease the amount of damage done to roads caused by public transportation. Less road damage means less tax money spent on road repairs and less potential damage done to other vehicles on the road.
While electric buses have several potential benefits to offer communities, there are some questions with how to integrate this technology into current transportation systems. A primary concern is the buses charging system and average range. Considering that most transit systems run twelve hours a day it can be viewed as a challenge to keep an electric bus running between charges. This challenge could require an installation of multiple charging devices throughout the community, to ensure buses stay charged and operating efficiently. Installing and maintaining the charging devices, which is currently being proposed at strategically located bus stops, would be an additional cost to the transit agency. Despite the cost and implementation concerns, I believe the potential advantages of the electric bus are far greater.
As a BGE intern, I have the privilege of being part of a company that works with customers and employees to better manage energy usage. Whether it’s how energy is used in our homes and offices or how energy is used to get to our destinations, we all have a role in ensuring efficient use of energy. However you decide to travel, I hope it’s safe and efficient.
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.
We love to hear from you. So feel free to comment, but keep in mind our blog policy