Taylor Jones, Communications Intern
In early July, BGE held its 2nd annual Smart Energy Internship orientation. This summer they added a new activity to the program – a day-long excursion hosted by Outward Bound, an organization that, "delivers learning expeditions that inspire character development, leadership, and service. Through challenge and adventure in unfamiliar settings, students overcome mental and physical challenges, discovering that they can achieve more than they thought possible."
Who better to take than 25 new interns who have never truly interacted with each other outside of school or interacted at all? I had the privilege to take part and let's start by saying that it was an experience like no other!
Upon arriving, seven other interns and I were put in a group and assigned a counselor named Jeff. We worked with Jeff on team building exercises and games that required everyone to participate because without all eight people the activity would fail. It reminded me a lot of the principles that we use here at BGE. If we are missing one individual our work would be incomplete because everyone is a vital entity in the work we do here, not only in the field but in the office as well.
I found myself many times throughout our visit smiling, laughing, joking, becoming more comfortable with my co–workers and looking at not only myself but others in a different light. I am typically a bit shy when interacting with youth my age, so imagine my fear when I was told I would have to frequently communicate and play numerous games with other youth for four hours.
However, with the help of Outward Bound and the constant encouragement from Jeff and my co-workers, I was out of my shell in no time at all. I found myself vulnerable and truly opening up about my emotional and physical fears in front of not only my co–workers and Jeff, but myself as well.
The entire experience forced me out of comfort zone and allowed me to truly see the beauty of the woods and how peaceful change can be. I left Outward Bound that evening with the desire to be supportive to my co-workers and constantly be prepared to step in and assist them in any way possible. I finally understand the saying "There is no I in team".
Linda Foy, Sr. Manager - Communications
As a first-time attendee of Exelon's Innovation Expo, I was most impressed by the number of people (close to 2,500) who attended. It felt like a professional association conference that would typically be attended by people from many different companies. And while, in a lot of ways, Exelon's many operating companies function as separate entities, the Expo showed we are all part of the same family.
It also showed that we are united in our efforts to innovate in the best interest of our customers – seeing it in person was extremely motivational and inspiring.
I am not an engineer or IT professional so I could not fully appreciate some of the highly technical presentations. But importantly, most of them included customer benefits that were clearly articulated and made the overall presentations easier for laypeople to understand.
I also sat in on the Microsoft HoloLens Digital Worker Experience breakout session and was amazed at how virtual reality could improve employee training, equipment maintenance and business efficiencies. After the presentation, a member of the audience commented that he had an immediate use for the technology in his business. He also shared how labor and time intensive a particular job was because the technology he had just witnessed was not (yet) available to him. This was great immediate feedback!
In addition to the amazing ideas and demonstrations, I had the opportunity to meet people from different parts of the business as well as reconnect with colleagues who I've worked with in the past. Hearing what others are up to in the innovation space helped broaden my own view of innovation and how my team can become more involved in moving the innovation needle forward.
Randy Baynes, Sr. Account Executive, Large Customer Services
Maryland's economy was in the spotlight last week during BGE's third Energizing Business Growth Breakfast. Innovation and collaboration highlighted the meeting as nearly 200 members of the business community networked and were treated to a wealth of information.
To emphasize our 2017 theme Energy to Innovate, BGE invited Johns Hopkins University Sr. Advisor, Christy Wyskiel to share a very engaging keynote on the need for sparking innovation and entrepreneurship in Maryland. The discussion focused on the advances of Johns Hopkins research and their effort to enable students and startups to begin, grow and keep their ventures in Baltimore. This will enhance business development, job creation and ultimately, the economy.
BGE also recognized a long-standing partner in the economic development arena. To celebrate 20 years of dedication to strengthening the Baltimore Metro area, BGE presented an award to the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore. EAGB's President and CEO, Shannon Landwehr was on hand to accept the award and speak to the two decade-long association between the utility, other public and private supporters and her organization.
Guests were also engaged by a panel discussion highlighting innovation and partnerships among several key roles in local economic development. Panelists shared their thoughts from the utility, developer and state government perspectives. Additionally, BGE's Smart Energy Savers program, Smart Energy Economic Development (SEEDSM) incentive and some exciting new Energy Management tools scheduled to launch in 2018 were shared.
Events like this breakfast helps BGE continue its 200+ year commitment to the central Maryland economy by maintaining and establishing meaningful relationships with Baltimore businesses large and small. Plans are already in the works for next year's event!
Wanda Dodson, Sr. Account Executive, Large Customer Services
BGE has a long history of spreading news about energy efficiency to our customers. Each month, we highlight ways to save energy in our Smart Energy Newsletter. We provide helpful tips almost daily throughout social media and we can often be found at different tradeshows and expos providing literature and reminders to help customers save energy and money.
Recently, BGE and T.Rowe Price joined efforts to further spread the news at the company’s Earth Week event – an event designed to raise awareness on the importance and value of being better stewards of the environment. During the week of planned activities, BGE representatives presented on our energy efficiency programs through lunch and learn presentations; offered T.Rowe Price employees the opportunity to purchase reduced-cost LED lights, and helped them enroll in our programs. Several hundred employees were engaged and many signed up to have our Quick Home Energy Check Up performed on their home. Already we’re thinking about additional ways we can partner to help continue to spread the word.
As BGE works with our customers to help reduce energy usage and costs, we recognize that many businesses and organizations are also important influencers in this space. Just as we welcome opportunities to work with our customers to find ways to reduce usage, we also are just as excited to team up with businesses to increase awareness on ways to conserve energy. We appreciate the partnership with T.Rowe Price and look forward to the next time we can speak with their employees on Smart Energy.
Justin Mulcahy, BGE Communications Manager
Utility scammers may call you or they may come to your door. The angle of the scam may change, but the tactics remain the same — pressuring customers to turn over personal information and money.
We are committed to educating our customers and putting a stop to scamming. Periodically we see increases in reports of individuals calling our customers and falsely claiming that utility service will be disconnected unless an immediate payment is made.
Impersonators then direct customers to buy a prepaid credit card and call back with the card number or other personal banking or utility account information.
Scammers also use a tactic called "caller ID spoofing" to manipulate the displayed phone number so that it appears on your phone's caller ID as a BGE number.
BGE has also investigated reports of supplier switching. In this scam, individuals obtain utility account information and change a customer's energy supplier without their knowledge.
These are the lengths scammers go to now. So, please stay alert.
Don't get scammed! Take these extra precautions:
The safety of our customers and employees is a top priority.
For more information on scams and utility imposters, click here.
Alex Nunez, Sr. Vice President Regulatory & External Affairs
For the second straight year, Light City Baltimore is brilliantly showcasing amazing light art installations and musical performances from local, national and international artists.
While the lights and music take center stage at night, during the day it's the innovative ideas and engaging people that shine the brightest at Labs@LightCity.
Six different conferences bring together national and local community thought leaders in an exchange of ideas on topics ranging from design to food, to social, education and health matters.
This year, I had the honor of serving as emcee for the BGE-sponsored GreenLab@Light City, which delved into energy, ecology and economics in a visionary and thought provoking dialogue on April 4.
Three powerful themes emerged again and again throughout the day in different forms:
Reclamation: Whether it was MacArthur 'Genius' grant recipient Majora Carter talking about reclaiming part of the Bronx River and revitalizing boarded up neighborhood blocks and rundown parks, or the USDA Forest Service and Humanim partnering to keep urban trees and lumber from vacant houses out of the waste stream through the Baltimore Wood Project, the theme of the power of reclamation was evident. We are surrounded by incredible resources to which we simply have to apply innovative thought from the right mix of engaged and committed partners. Right in front of us are the overlooked and underutilized elements of our society that hold the power to uplift entire communities and generations.
Partnerships: Each of us can make a difference and be a force for positive social change. However, when you seek to collaborate and ideate with diverse partners, the potential for positive effect is exponential. We learned how some of the strongest initiatives are fueled by networks of nonprofit leaders, social entrepreneurs, government agencies, academic institutions, and local community members from all generations and socio-economic backgrounds. During GreenLab, the most amazing examples of sustainability and change discussed were often the vision of multiple persons, companies, agencies, or nonprofit organizations. There is real power is in broad, diverse and inclusive networks.
Innovation: Every great idea we discussed at GreenLab was fueled by the spirit of innovation—looking at a need, a process, or a problem in a new or different way. We heard from Calvin Butler, CEO of BGE and Exelon Vice President of Generation Innovation and Strategy Development Mike Smith about how critical it is for established companies like BGE and Exelon to think like startups, view detours as opportunities to explore, and always keep pressing forward to better serve customers and communities. We also heard from Dr. Leyla Acaroglu about the imperative of re-inventing the shape of our experience and impact on the Earth by acknowledging the need to challenge the status quo and then use deliberate design and systems thinking to elicit long-term sustainability.
Watching these themes interweave throughout GreenLab reinforced how powerful Light City Baltimore can be in spurring collaborative ideation and social innovation. It's exactly why BGE has been proud to serve as the lead founding partner of Light City Baltimore in its first two years. Thank you to everyone who attended Labs@Light City and I encourage those interested in social innovation to consider attending next year. Enjoy the final weekend of the festival!
Richard Yost, Communications Manager
In late March, Nissan brought the all-electric LEAF to the Lord Baltimore Building for an employee ride-and-drive event.
By getting employees behind the wheel, BGE hoped to build awareness of electric vehicle (EV) capabilities and increase interest in purchasing the vehicles for personal use.
About 30 employees took advantage of the opportunity and many came away impressed by the EV's performance while also noting concerns about their range and a lack of charging locations.
Raising awareness and addressing any concerns are key steps to inspire early EV adoption.
The company initially became involved with EVs after their introduction in 2010 when it purchased some for its fleet and installed charging stations. Now BGE is focused on supporting the state of Maryland's goal to have 300,000 zero-emissions vehicles on the road by 2025.
And with utilities' natural experience in building and maintaining electric infrastructure, there is an opportunity for companies like BGE to take the lead in creating a charging network.
Once a charging network is under development, experts expect EV adoption to accelerate, which will help Maryland meet its clean air and water goals.
Click here to view a WJZ-TV news segment on the event and here for a BGE-produced video.
John Murach, Manager, Energy Efficiency Programs
The State of Maryland set a goal to have 300,000 zero-emissions vehicles (ZEV) on the road by 2025.
Why so many?
Electric vehicles (EVs), the most commonly available ZEVs, can drastically reduce the amount of pollution from transportation. Even plug-in hybrids use less gasoline per mile and produce less tailpipe emissions than conventional cars. This would lead to a huge and positive impact on air quality and the health of Chesapeake Bay.
So in addition to saving drivers money and supporting energy independence, choosing to drive an EV can help Maryland meet its air quality and Healthy Chesapeake Bay goals.
EVs create less air pollution than conventional vehicles since they don't burn gasoline or diesel fuel. Even when construction costs and emissions from power plants are taken into consideration, EVs contribute significantly less greenhouse gases to the environment than traditional gas-fueled cars.
With Marylanders driving about 135 million miles every day, it's clear that EVs can make a huge difference in air quality.
But reduced emissions can also improve the health of waterways. In Maryland, about one quarter of the Chesapeake Bay's nitrogen pollution problem is attributed to air pollution, mostly from vehicles. Excess nitrogen can cause algae blooms, which can create low-oxygen dead zones that suffocate marine life.
Reduce the amount of nitrogen, and we get a healthier Bay!
At BGE, we believe that utilities can help advance the adoption of EVs, which is another way that we can help protect the environment while helping to move smart energy forward.
Ammanuel Moore, Economic Development Manager
A rising tide lifts all boats. This expression, which has been used in many economic conversations, points to the notion that as the economy benefits, so does its participants. From global economies to right here in Maryland, we can see this effect. When local businesses flourish, jobs are more abundant, investment and consumer activity increases and tax revenues grow. Combined together, this can improve a citizen's quality of life.
BGE is a staunch supporter of Maryland's effort to grow its economy. Through partnerships with state and local economic development agencies, we provide energy cost saving programs that make the state more attractive for new and expanding businesses. We also continuously invest in our electric and gas systems to ensure we're able to meet the energy needs of Maryland's growing business community.
From replacing pipes and wires to trimming trees and upgrading meters, this work helps support thousands of jobs and saves customers money by enabling better energy management and cost-savings programs.
In January, we released our latest economic impact study (focused on 2015 data) published by the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore. Among many key highlights, the study shows that BGE contributes more than five-billion dollars in economic value to the state through our general operations. Each year, we spend more than one-billion dollars on goods and services, which helps to support thousands of jobs and households throughout the region. More than a third of what we purchase is spent with local business and more than 25 percent of our total spend is with diverse certified companies.
As Maryland's largest utility, BGE recognizes the role it can play in helping to drive Maryland's economic growth. We're committed to working with state and local government, businesses, support groups and residential customers to ensure that we are operating efficiently, constantly innovating and applying our resources, including the energy of 3200 employees, to create the greatest good for Maryland.
Justin Mulcahy, Communications Manager
For some, the images of Mondawmin Mall are of rocks and bricks being thrown nearly two years ago during the unrest in Baltimore.
But the images during the recent grand opening of TouchPoint Baltimore at Mondawmin were of people smiling, hugging and even shedding a few tears. It was a moment nearly two years in the making.
So what is TouchPoint Baltimore?
Corporate sponsors BGE and Whiting-Turner partnered with four nonprofits—Thread, Baltimore Corps, Center for Urban Families and Invested Impact to create a space at Mondawmin Mall for collaboration among nonprofits, corporate partners and the community.
"We wanted to make a difference. We wanted to show the community that we care and that we are here to support them," said BGE Chief Executive Officer Calvin G. Butler Jr. "This is a place for citizens to go when they think there are no options left."
The four nonprofits have missions that complement each other and the TouchPoint mission. Services include mentoring, tutoring, workforce development, life skills support, leadership development and entrepreneurial support.
"Growing up in the inner city, you see things that are tempting and that you might want to indulge in," said Devin Morton, a Thread graduate. "Being in the Thread program has shown me there is a different way of living and it has helped me to become a productive member of society."
The hope is that the creation of TouchPoint will serve as a model for other corporations and nonprofits and be implemented in other communities for maximum impact.
For more information on TouchPoint, please visit http://www.touchpointbaltimore.org/
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