Ammanuel Moore, Economic Development Manager
The Maryland Economic Development Association’s (MEDA) Annual Winter Conference recently convened hundreds of stakeholders to discuss Maryland’s future and identify strategies that support the state’s effort to attract, retain and grow its economy. Unified by the theme of “Economic Development Transforms Lives,” leaders such as newly-elected governor Larry Hogan shared thoughts on how to increase Maryland’s competitiveness both
regionally and globally. Ideas included strengthening public and private partnerships, developing a business environment that will help attract, retain and grow businesses, advancing education to prepare students for the 21st century workforce, and investing in resources like the Chesapeake Bay to draw new residents to the area.
As Maryland’s largest utility, we are committed to supporting Maryland’s economy and we’re proud that we already actively pursue many of the ideas discussed at the conference. Numerous customers see their utility as simply managers of pipes or wires to deliver energy, but we view our work as also a vital component of Maryland’s prosperity. In fact, we operate in a way that helps businesses choose Maryland as their business location or place to expand their operations – which creates jobs and economic opportunity. This isn’t just talk, either: a 2014 Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore economic impact study showed that BGE generated more than $3.8 billion in output for the state of Maryland through our general operations, energy management programs and charitable contributions.
So why does BGE – or any business – care about boosting the state’s economy? We recognize that we are completely reliant on each other. Without a strong economy, businesses and households find it difficult to meet their needs, be productive and support not only Maryland’s overall well-being, but its ability to grow. This is why our economic development initiatives support chambers of commerce, workforce partnerships and economic development groups like MEDA in their work to increase opportunity and “transform lives.”
It’s clear that Maryland has vast potential as a center for economic opportunity due to its proximity to Washington, D.C. and the 95 corridor, highly-ranked colleges and universities, the Port of Baltimore and many other assets. As ideas on Maryland’s future were shared and debated, it was also noted that every stakeholder – whether a business owner or employee, a legislator or voter – must participate in order for Maryland to take advantage of those assets and succeed.
It is BGE’s commitment to continue working with our partners and customers to help Maryland reach its potential.
Rob Biagiotti, Vice President, Gas Distribution
This time of year, when the winter chill has set in, the warmth and comfort that natural gas brings our customers is clear. It is the fuel that warms furnaces, lights gas fireplaces and bakes holiday treats.
As important as this energy source is, you may not think about natural gas often or the extensive network of buried pipes that deliver the gas where and when it is needed. It is invisible in more ways than one. In fact, if we didn’t add mercaptan odorant to naturally odorless gas, you wouldn’t be able to smell it. Giving natural gas its unpleasant, rotten egg odor is one of the most basic ways we help make it safe.
Everyone needs to understand natural gas safety, even people who don’t have gas service. We especially need to teach children how to recognize and react to escaping gas. That is why we created Captain Mercaptan (SM), a natural gas safety hero.
Actually, we just gave Captain Mercaptan a name. It was children who decided on the appearance of our superhero through a contest this year. Elementary school (grades K-5) students were asked to provide a description and drawings of Captain Mercaptan for a chance to win funding for a school enrichment project. Top entries from each grade level (K-5) received $5,000 to use for a school enrichment project, and the overall highest rated entry received an additional $5,000.
In the end, we received 67 entries and there were six winners with one school in Gambrills, School of the Incarnation, taking two awards, including the $10,000 grand prize. They used the school enrichment funds to create a fantastic new music room used by all of the students.
Like any superhero, Captain Mercaptan is now featured in ads, stickers, scratch-n-sniff cards and promotional items to help spread the message.
Now that we know who Captain Mercaptan is and what he looks like, we are eager to see what he does next. Stay tuned in early 2015 when we launch The Adventures of Captain Mercaptan contest. Be on the lookout for new, super adventures and a few sidekicks to join Captain Mercaptan’s team. For more details about the contest, visit BGEgashero.com
In the meantime, make sure the kids in your life understand how to be safe around natural gas, and help spread the word to elementary school teachers and administrators and PTA leaders about this great opportunity in 2015.
Bob Oberle, Principal Community Relations Specialist
Turn off the lights! It’s probably something said by parents to their children since the light bulb was invented, but how much energy do lights actually use? In the average household, lighting accounts for about five to ten percent of our total energy use-- on average, about $50 to $150 annually. This is only a small portion of the energy used by our heating and cooling equipment, which can account up to 50 percent of our annual energy requirements. And yet, it is still prudent not to waste energy. With a little discipline and slight behavioral changes, we can save some money, and have the satisfaction of reducing our own carbon footprint.
Most of us by now are using, or have at least heard of our new lighting choices: compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or light emitting diodes (LEDs). Traditional incandescent bulbs have always used a lot of energy to produce light, with 90 percent of that energy given off as heat. That lost energy is not cost efficient! Quality ENERGY STAR certified CFLs typically last ten times longer and use about one-fourth the energy of incandescent bulbs.
Use ENERGY STAR certified CFL bulbs in places where you will have the light on for at least 15 minutes at a time. Frequently turning a CFL on and off will shorten its lifetime. Because outdoor lights are usually left on a long time, using CFLs or LEDS in these fixtures will save a lot of energy. Most bare spiral CFLs can be used outside if in enclosed fixtures that protects them from the weather.
The spiral shape CFL bulb is familiar to all of us, but with more recent improvements in technology, CFLs now also come with dimmable, three-way, candelabra, or globe bulbs. Home improvement stores now carry a large variety, but make sure you read the packaging or ask an associate for advice, as not all are designed to work in every socket. For example, many photocells and timers are not designed to work with CFLs. And if you have a ceiling fan or candelabra which is hooked up to a dimmer switch, make sure you only use dimmable bulbs.
Rebates of up to $2.25 are available instantly on CFLs at most stores, as the discount is already included in the purchase price. Or better yet, sign up for a Quick Home Energy Check-up, or the more comprehensive Home Performance with Energy Star energy audit, and receive up to 12 CFLs and other energy saving measures at no additional charge. To learn more and find out how to receive rebates, visit the BGE Smart Energy Savers Page
Happy Holidays and Be Safe!
Chanel Rhoads-Reed, Senior Community Relations Specialist
The Community Affairs team is committed to the communities we serve. Throughout the year the team engages in at least one volunteer outreach effort each month. Whether it’s digging a ditch (literally), laying mulch, packing food at a food bank, or painting a school, no task is ever too small or too big for our team.
Volunteering in the community brings me great joy knowing I am helping others. There is no greater reward than giving back.
The team has volunteered at several Maryland based organizations including Real Food Farm with Civic Works. Real Food Farm is Civic Works’ innovative urban agricultural enterprise engaged in growing fresh produce on six acres of land in Clifton Park located in Northeast Baltimore. The organization provides neighborhood access to healthy food, supports local agriculture, organizes hands-on education opportunities for Baltimore students and protects the environment with sustainable farming methods.
This past summer, the team rolled up their sleeves in 90 degree weather to help pack and load over 10,000 pounds of food at the Harford Community Action Agency (HCAA) to be delivered to various agencies that provide food to those in need. HCAA is the designated Community Action Agency that provides programs and services to address the needs of low-income individuals, families and communities in Harford County, MD.
One of the most rewarding volunteer efforts that the team participated in was the 3rd Annual Baer-Athlon at William S. Baer School. The team supported special needs athletes as they completed a walking lap, a biking lap, and a lap around the sprinklers for the Baer-Athon challenge! They offered assistance to the athletes during the races and cheered them on from the sidelines.
Team members make a conscience effort to put aside time from their busy work schedules to make a difference in the community. In addition to the volunteer initiatives, several employees from the Community Affairs team are board members of various Maryland based non-profit organizations. We believe the best way to serve is to be present in the community and lend a helping hand where we can.
For more information on BGE’s commitment to employee volunteers and charitable giving visit www.bge.com/ourcommitments
Faviola Donato-Galindo, Sr. Community Relations Specialist
In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, BGE’s Organization for Latinos at Exelon (OLE) celebrated by giving back to the Latino community. Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated annually from September 15 through October 15. The commemoration coincides with the anniversary of the independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile and Belize celebrate independence days on September 16, 18 and 21, respectively.
Hispanic Heritage Month offers an opportunity to recognize the contributions, accomplishments and the diversity of cultures within the Latino community. Most importantly, it provides a chance for giving back to the community and paying it forward as a symbol of how far Latinos have come and the positive impact they are making in the United States.
Recently, OLE and BGE staff volunteered at the Esperanza Center, filling over 200 backpacks with donated school supplies to give to low-income families. The backpacks will provide these youth with items needed during the school year. The Esperanza Center’s mission is to provide essential resources and compassionate services to immigrants to promote citizenship, health, family unity and community integration. Last year alone, the Esperanza Center provided services to over 6,000 immigrants. Visit the Esperanza Center website to learn more about their services and programs.
This volunteer event at the Esperanza Center is one of many volunteer opportunities that BGE makes available to its employees as a commitment to supporting the communities in which we live and work. In addition, BGE continues to strengthen its support to the Latino community through workforce diversity and inclusion. As such, BGE and parent company, Exelon, offer several Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that support diversity and inclusion and serve as a resource to the corporation and its employees. OLE is one of many ERGs at BGE that supports the company’s effort in achieving strategic business goals such as diversity and inclusion; fostering employee career development; and maintaining a strong presence in the Latino community by leveraging the talent of OLE member employees.
To learn more about BGE’s community outreach plans and events, visit us at www.bge.com/communitycalendar or follow us at twitter.com/mybge or facebook.com/mybge.
Michael Davenport, Manager, Community Affairs
Earlier this month, BGE hosted its first Leaders’ Forum. Over 100 leaders and representatives from regional business, civic, faith, government and healthcare organizations assembled to learn about our operational and community initiatives. The objectives of the forum were to share information on the investments BGE is making to improve service to our customers and communicate our commitment to our communities through employee volunteerism and charitable giving. Also, the forum served as an opportunity for BGE executives to leverage two-way communication on ways the utility can continue to work in partnership with leaders throughout the region.
BGE Chief Executive Officer, Calvin Butler Jr. shared information from a recently released economic impact study prepared by the Economic Alliance Group of Greater Baltimore (EAGB) to demonstrate ways in which BGE is working with the business community and local and state governments to directly and indirectly impact the Central Maryland economy. In addition, BGE executives shared survey data that indicated improving trends in both operational and customer satisfaction metrics. BGE also highlighted employee contributions in volunteerism to nonprofit organizations and its $3.5 million dollars in charitable giving to nonprofit profit organizations throughout its service territory.
The highlight of the forum was the question and answer segment with Calvin Butler Jr., CEO and Stephen Woerner, President and COO where the two responded to questions from the audience and discussed feedback from a brainstorm session earlier in the day. The event was a learning experience for both BGE and our guests as we had an opportunity to engage with a cross-section of leaders representing diverse sectors of our community throughout the region.
Many of the participants expressed appreciation for the opportunity to network with other leaders and key stakeholders, learn about BGE’s current and planned initiatives and exchange ideas and provide feedback to the utility. BGE’s Community Affairs team will assess the effectiveness of the forum via a survey to determine the logistics of a future forum.
We would appreciate your feedback and ideas on types of issues BGE should consider addressing at its next Leaders’ Forum. We thank you in advance for your feedback. To learn more about BGE’s community outreach plans and events, visit us at www.bge.com/communitycalendar or follow us at twitter.com/mybge or facebook.com/mybge
Christie D. McMullen, Chief Safety Officer & Vice President, Support Services
There are many safety precautions we can take every day to prevent injuries and protect our personal property and families. However when Mother Nature strikes, it proves how important it is to try to be prepared. With more than 1.2 million customers depending on our electric and natural gas service, storm preparation is one of the most essential measures we take, and just as BGE prepares year-round for potential storm-related power outages, we encourage our customers to prepare as well.
Here are some important tips to consider when preparing for an approaching storm:
- Listen to weather forecasts and plan ahead.
- If you lose power, use flashlights. Do not use candles or kerosene lamps – they can create a fatal safety hazard.
- Develop a family emergency plan that includes alternative arrangements should the need arise to leave your home. Make provisions for special needs of any family member such as the elderly, disabled, medically affected, or infants. If you are dependent on electric-powered medical equipment, you are encouraged to seek alternate arrangements in the event that your electric service is interrupted.
- Keep the following items on hand: fresh batteries, a portable radio flashlights, a manual can opener, matches, a battery-operated or wind-up clock, non-perishable food (canned and dried food), fuses, sterno
- Make a list of emergency phone numbers (including 877.778.2222 to report and outage to BGE) and keep a personal telephone book and one corded phone or cell phone on hand.
- Keep a first-aid kit in your home and one in your car. Don’t forget to include: scissors, tweezers, safety pins, aspirin, eyewash, rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide
- Keep one gallon of bottled water for each person in the household
- If your home is served by well water, fill a bathtub with water for sanitation use
- Keep cash on hand.
In light of National Preparedness Month, BGE encourages families to learn about emergency preparedness and practice behaviors that will increase your responsiveness in case of natural disasters or extreme weather conditions. Natural disasters can develop gradually or happen quickly with little warning. For this reason, planning for an emergency now can save you and your family much needed time during severe weather conditions. Visit http://www.ready.gov/september for emergency preparedness tips.
Faviola Donato-Galindo, Sr. Community Relations Specialist
I am thrilled to be a part of BGE’s Community Affairs team and to continue the outstanding work with our schools, both in the classroom and beyond. Before joining BGE, I worked for Baltimore City Public Schools, supporting schools’ efforts to engage families and be equal partners in their child’s academic success. While at City Schools, I came to know the importance of continuously involving children and youth in meaningful learning experiences.
Recently, I met with Mr. Curtis Durham, City Schools principal, who shared with me the “Five E’s” learning model: Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend and Evaluate. Mr. Curtis Durham explained that this model is intended to help students build understanding and knowledge through experiences and ideas; as well as how BGE’s educational offerings could utilize this model as a rubric in the implementation of our programs.
Engage: Peaking students’ interest and making the connection between what they know and what they will learn.
Explore: Providing students with opportunities for inquiry and guiding students through thought-provoking questions.
Explain: Allowing students to find the meaning the topics being explored within their own experiences.
Extend: Letting students apply their new knowledge and develop a deeper understanding of the topic and concepts.
Evaluate: Reflecting upon the concepts learned and allowing students to demonstrate their understanding.
BGE’s educational outreach is a unique effort for educating youth about understanding and staying safe around electricity and natural gas. It serves as a platform for schools to introduce energy concepts in a way that enables students to make connections both academically and in everyday life.
Moreover, with the implementation of new academic standards, there is a great drive for our educational programs to create linkages from inside the classroom to practical opportunities in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM).
I am looking forward to the journey ahead. I am ready to begin building relationships with schools. Through this effort, my hope is that we can make a broader impact in our community by continuing our commitment to education.
Best wishes to all educators, students and families on the upcoming school year!
Rob Biagiotti, Vice President, Gas Distribution
This week, Maryland’s youth will enter into another promising school year filled with the hopes of continued learning and meaningful interactions with teachers, mentors and peers. Many will be first-timers, including kindergarteners boarding giant yellow school busses; and freshman entering college, some of whom will be the first in their family.
At BGE we recognize the value of education and support programs to encourage students of all ages to work hard and develop skills which will help them contribute to the future growth and success of our society. We encourage and promote innovation and advances in technology, sustainability, and efficiency as we work together to build a stronger community.
Many of our elementary schools are familiar with our presence in classrooms through our safety programs – BGE Wires Down Video Challenge and Captain Mercaptan. Both programs educate children, parents and teachers on the importance of energy safety and allow area schools to earn up to $10,000 toward an enrichment project.
BGE also contributes resources to help students advance their education. Last year we donated $3.5 million, a third of which went to support children and adult education efforts. We recently contributed $2,500 toward The College Bound Foundation in support of their Urban Scholarship Program to help less fortunate high school students secure scholarships and financial aid for college. I’ve had the personal privilege of working closely with the Urban Scholarship Program and witnessing the impact this program and others like it mean to families. In July, my colleagues and I attended the 26th Annual College Bound Scholars’ Luncheon where hundreds of guests came to celebrate those who were awarded scholarships to various universities. These types of programs are critical to ensuring that financial obstacles never impede students from furthering their education – especially if they are willing to work hard.
As we embark on another school year, we want to extend our best wishes to every student pursuing their education goals. It is our hope that you excel in your studies, deepen your life experiences and prepare for a most rewarding future.
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.
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