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For Immediate Release


Tasha Jamerson

BGE and WBAL-TV Team Up for Natural Gas Safety Hero Challenge

Meteorologist Ava Marie is now celebrity judge of the Captain Mercaptan educational contest 

BALTIMORE (Sept. 3, 2019) – BGE today announced the return of  "The Adventures of Captain Mercaptan®, BGE Natural Gas Safety Hero Challenge," and the addition of WBAL-TV meteorologist Ava Marie as celebrity judge of the contest. The contest challenges elementary school students in BGE's service area to submit a three-panel comic strip illustrating a natural gas safety message featuring Captain Mercaptan, BGE's fictional natural gas safety superhero.  The top winning school receives $10,000. A total of $35,000 will be awarded to winning schools this year. Teachers from winning schools also receive a $100 or $500 prize.

The submission phase is now open and runs through Nov. 10.  Public and private elementary schools in BGE's service area are urged to download the online entry kit and work with their students to complete their entries.  Captain Mercaptan's name is derived from "mercaptan," a safety additive that BGE and other utilities put in natural gas to give it a distinctive rotten egg odor that makes gas easier to detect.  The superhero and his safety sidekicks were designed by elementary school students through the BGE contest. 

"We are excited about the addition of WBAL-TV meteorologist Ava Marie to this very important educational program," said Christopher Burton, vice president of Gas Distribution, BGE. "At BGE, maintaining a safe and reliable natural gas system for the customers we serve is a top priority. This contest utilizes the creativity and energy of children to teach them how to live and work safely around natural gas in a fun and exciting way."

"I'm so proud to be a part of BGE's natural gas safety campaign that empowers kids to become safety leaders in their own communities," said WBAL-TV meteorologist Ava Marie. "And what a fun way for them to learn more skills in STEM."

Schools are also encouraged to use the entry kit at BGE Gas Hero to review natural gas safety concepts and elements of STEM with kindergarten through fifth grade students and begin creating their contest entries.  Beginning Nov.18, entries will compete for votes during a two-week, online public voting period.  The winning schools will be announced in January 2020.  The previous contest's winning entry was from Resurrection-St. Paul School in Ellicott City. To date, BGE has awarded $210,000 to area schools during the first six contests.

Eligible schools will have an opportunity to win the following awards:

  • BGE Captain's Choice Award - $5,000 overall top winner among the Hero Award winners, meaning this school receives a total of $10,000
  • BGE Hero Award - $5,000 for winners in kindergarten through fifth grade (one winner per grade)
  • Rock the Vote (for the drawing with the most online votes) – BGE backpacks full of school supplies and safety gear

Captain Mercaptan teaches children that they can be a hero too if they follow these simple safety tips:

  • Use your nose. Mercaptan is a safety odor that BGE puts in natural gas to give it a rotten egg smell which makes leaks easier to detect.
  • Use your ears. Listen for the hissing sound of escaping gas.
  • Use your eyes. Look for dirt being blown into the air, dead plants or grass in otherwise green areas, fire coming from the ground or water bubbling and being blown into the air.
  • If you detect natural gas, leave immediately.
  • Don't attempt to detect the source of the leak.
  • Don't use matches or turn anything on that could be a source of ignition (including a cell phone).
  • Find a safe place outside and call BGE or have an adult call 877.778.7798 or 800.685.0123.

BGE traces its roots back to 1816 as the first gas utility in North America. Today the company provides safe, reliable natural gas service to more than 650,000 gas customers in central Maryland. Customers are reminded to immediately contact BGE at 877.778.7798 or 1.800.685.0123 from a safe location if they have any questions or concerns about natural gas. For more information on the Captain Mercaptan contest, including future adventures, visit Gas safety tips are available at




BGE, founded in 1816 as the nation's first gas utility and headquartered in Baltimore, is Maryland's largest natural gas and electric utility. The company's approximately 3,200 employees are committed to safe and reliable energy delivery to more than 1.25 million electric customers and more than 650,000 natural gas customers in central Maryland.  In the J.D. Power 2017 and 2018 Electric Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study SM  BGE was ranked Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Business Electric Service in the East among Large Utilities. In addition, in the J.D. Power 2018 Gas Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study SM   BGE received Best in Customer Satisfaction with Business Natural Gas Service in the East. BGE is a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), the nation's leading competitive energy provider. Connect with BGE on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, YouTube, Flickr, and engage with the latest BGE stories on


Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (or "BGE") received the highest score in the East Large segment of the 2018 Electric Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study and the East Region of the 2018 Gas Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study of electric and gas utility customer satisfaction among business customers. Visit

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