Darryl A. Stokes, Vice President, Electric Transmission & Substations
February is Black History Month (BHM) – an opportunity to celebrate African American history, to learn and raise added attention about culture and matters that speak to the communities in which we live and work.
Throughout this month, BGE employees joined employee resource group EAARA (Exelon African American Resource Alliance) in events, including a speaker series and panel discussions covering everything from professional development and the power of supplier diversity. Diversity is recognized and celebrated at BGE all year by supporting programs and organizations that promote diversity in our neighborhoods.
This year’s signature event included Career Development Insights from Susan L. Taylor: Nurturing Your Passion Along Your Career Pa
th. Susan L. Taylor is founder and chief executive officer of National CARES Mentoring Movement and Editor in Chief Emerita of Essence Magazine referred to as "the most influential black woman in journalism today" by American Libraries in 1994. Today she leads a mentoring program to better the youth in underrepre
sented communities and help prepare them for careers in the STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).
Other BHM inspired events include “Corporate America’s Responsibility in Community Engagement” featuring keynote speaker Roland Martin, Host/Managing Editor of TV One’s daily morning show, News One Now, Senior Analyst, Tom Joyner Morning Show, Author, International Speaker and CEO, Nu Vision Media.
In addition, BGE is a proud sponsor of Baltimore Concert Opera presents “Th
is Little Light of Mine,” This one-woman musical tribute honors the careers of two African-American opera legends: Marian Anderson and Leontyne Price. Anderson became the first African-American singer to perform at The Metropolitan Opera House and Price would take that torch and carry it to The Metropolitan Opera and the most prestigious opera houses around the world.
BHM is a time for us to celebrate the achievements of African-Americans and an opportunity to recognize those who have shaped the past and those who are continuing to shape the future.
William T. Rees, Jr., Senior Business Analyst, Vegetation Management Unit
BGE actively works to maintain the trees surrounding our more than 10,500 miles of overhead power lines. This is an effort that requires us to balance our stakeholders’ desire to have healthy trees in their neighborhoods with our commitment to delivering safe and reliable power.
A new challenge has recently surfaced in Maryland – the Emerald Ash Borer. This aggressive wood boring beetle attacks ash trees in its introduced range and causes their destruction within three years. While the insect is still getting established in BGE’s service territory, it is imperative that we act now to prevent it from becoming a threat to our ability to reliably deliver electricity.
The way this beetle kills Ash trees leaves them unsafe to climb which necessitates cranes and other specialty equipment to remove the trees. In addition, if they are not removed, the dead trees tend to uproot or break low at the stem instead of breaking into pieces like most dead trees, which would cause an additional threat to the electric grid.
We are currently in a small four to five year window between the beetle’s emergence and the point which the trees are too damaged to take any mitigating actions. BGE is in the process of evaluating the risk that the Emerald Ash Borer poses to the electric system. Once it has completed its evaluation, we will develop a course of action to appropriately respond to any threat posed by the Emerald Ash Borer, which will include consulting with relevant external stakeholders.
With close to two million ash trees in BGE’s service territory, residents and other land owners are also at risk from damaged and dead trees. It’s important to note that some Ash trees can be saved by the use of certain insecticides if they are treated proactively. For more information on which trees should be treated and how, click here.
See National Geographic article to learn more about the threat posed by the Emerald Ash Borer.
Bob Oberle, Sr. Community Relations Specialist
Several weeks ago, a local television station broadcast a piece about Smithfield Foods delivering a truck with 15 tons of pork inside to the Maryland Food Bank in Halethorpe. This shipment of fresh meat was certainly appreciated as it supplements the tons of donated canned goods, household products and other packaged food delivered to the Food Bank’s loading dock on a regular basis. The television report ended with a plea for help from a food bank employee who stated that while the warehouse was bursting at the seams with donated items, there was a need for volunteers to help sort and pack.
Last week, members of BGE’s Community Affairs team and other BGE employees spent a shift at the warehouse, sorting and packaging food for further distribution throughout the community. The entire operation at the Maryland Food Bank, from receiving to sorting and packing, to further distribution is quite impressive. But this is accompanied by the sobering thought that there are so many hungry people in our state.
Last year, in 2014 the Maryland Food Bank distributed nearly 37 million meals to families in need. This includes not just the homeless, but also children, seniors and even individuals who are working full-time, but still struggling to put food on the table.
BGE employees had the privilege of volunteering almost 26,000 hours in 2014 to a variety of good causes in the community. These include serving meals at soup kitchens, mentoring, and participating in environmental activities. But I always consider the time we spend at the food bank time well spent.
Melissa Cheek, Corporate Social Responsibility Specialist
Serving the community is an integral part of BGE’s core values. With the help of our employees, we contribute our time and resources year round toward initiatives that make our communities better places to live and work.
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service many of our employees take advantage of opportunities to honor Dr. King’s legacy – providing service to help meet the needs of our communities and build stronger, more impactful relationships with our customers.
This year, some of the projects BGE volunteers supported in honor of Dr. King included a community clean up in partnership with The Sixth Branch. Volunteers also assisted Art with a Heart, a nonprofit organization who makes it their mission to bring positive images and inspirational works of art to underserved members of the Baltimore community.
As well as prepare materials for re-sale, create displays and inventory the warehouse with The Loading Dock. The Loading Dock is a nonprofit dedicated to repurposing and reusing architectural pieces from home sites and remodels.
We hope you were equally inspired to serve within your community. As Dr. King once said, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?' To those that decided to contribute efforts toward community causes in recognition of Dr. King, we say thank you and we encourage everyone to continue making a difference in your community.
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, Customer Operations
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
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