BALTIMORE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--As the Atlantic hurricane season gets underway June 1, BGE is prepared to respond to weather-related emergencies and urges customers to take proactive steps to protect their families and properties. While BGE customers are experiencing fewer and less frequent power outages than ever before due to major investments being made in the electric delivery system, customers should always have a plan in place should outages occur, especially during hurricane season, which runs through Nov. 30.
Also beginning June 1, new standard offer service electric rates go into effect and residential customers who purchase their electricity from BGE will see a bill reduction of nearly $8 a month over the previous year. This is the result primarily of lower supply prices which have been on a downward trend for several years. Customers who purchase their electricity from BGE are paying less today for the energy supply portion of their bill than they did in 2007. Customers are also using less energy today, thanks to energy efficiency programs and smart grid upgrades.
“At a time when energy supply prices are lower, BGE continues to make significant investments in our system to provide safe and reliable service to our customers not only in advance of the summer storm and heat season, but all year long,” said Stephen J. Woerner, BGE president and COO. “While we invest in our system and routinely drill on our plans to ensure they are prepared to meet the demands of extreme summer weather, we ask our customers to also prepare for the possibility of severe weather.”
The company has invested more than $8 million in specific electric distribution system upgrades and new technologies to get ready for the 2017 summer. These investments include more durable poles and wiring, expanded options for rerouting service to minimize the number of customers affected by an outage, and automated equipment that responds to system damage allowing field personnel to be deployed to other areas where on-site work is required.
This work is part of the approximately $700 million invested each year in the company’s systems, part of more than $7 billion invested in gas and electric system upgrades since 2002. These include ongoing investments in natural gas pipes, utility poles, overhead power lines, underground cable and other equipment. An additional $4 billion will be invested during the next five years. System upgrades and expansions are expected to lead to fewer outages and faster restoration when outages occur.
BGE completes hundreds of tasks to prepare for the summer season, and as part of the Exelon family of companies, BGE now can draw on resources from sister utilities Delmarva Power in Delaware, PECO in Pennsylvania, Atlantic City Electric in New Jersey, Pepco in Washington, D.C., and ComEd in Illinois to restore power more quickly after major storms.
As BGE prepares, customers should prepare too:
Before severe weather hits, customers should:
- Have a supply of bottled water and easy-to-prepare, non-perishable foods available.
- Charge cell phones and mobile devices.
- Have a flashlight with fresh batteries on each floor of your home.
- Customers requiring refrigeration for medication or electricity for medical equipment should have alternate arrangements in place in the event of an extended power outage.
- Customers with landlines should keep a corded phone handy to report outages if their cell phone loses power.
- Visit bge.com/alerts to choose how to receive information, via text, email or phone, including when power is out in their area, when service is expected to be restored, or when power is restored.
- Text “ADDOUTAGE” to MYBGE (69243), to enroll in our two-way texting program to report outages and check the status of their outage.
If severe storms hit, visit BGE’s enhanced outage map at bge.com/outagemap for information on general locations of outages in BGE’s service territory. Customers also can report or view the status of an electric outage through a mobile device at bge.com.
Higher temperatures can lead to higher energy bills, and BGE provides a variety of programs to help customers save energy and money. For example, BGE’s Smart Energy Savers Program®, the company’s full suite of energy efficiency programs, helps residential, business, government and non-profit customers save energy and money. For more ways to save energy, visit www.bgesmartenergy.com.
In addition, customers can save energy and lower their bills this summer by following a few simple tips:
- Turn it off: Turn off all unnecessary lighting and devices.
- Manage your thermostat: Keep thermostats at a constant, comfortable level when at home. Raise the thermostat setting for days of extreme heat to save even more. Install a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust your home's temperature settings when you're away or sleeping.
- Keep shades, blinds and curtains closed: About 40 percent of unwanted heat comes through windows. Simply closing blinds and curtains, which act as a layer of insulation, can reduce heat in your home.
- Use ceiling fans to circulate air: For those without air conditioning, use ceiling fans or portable fans with the windows partially open to circulate fresh air into your home. For those with air conditioning, fans can be used to evenly distribute cool air.
- Use appliances wisely: Run appliances that produce heat (like clothes dryers, ovens and dishwashers) at night when it is cooler.
- Take advantage of Energy Savings Days. BGE schedules Energy Savings Days when the demand for electricity is expected to be particularly high. This typically occurs on very hot summer weekdays when both homes and businesses are using higher amounts of electricity, especially with air conditioning. You will be notified (via phone, email or text), usually the day before a BGE Energy Savings Day. Simply use less electricity between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. on an Energy Savings Day. You will then be notified by phone, email or text of how much money you saved.
BGE, founded in 1816 as the nation’s first gas utility, is Maryland’s largest natural gas and electric utility. Headquartered in Baltimore, BGE delivers power to more than 1.25 million electric customers and more than 650,000 natural gas customers in central Maryland. The company’s approximately 3,200 employees are committed to the safe and reliable delivery of natural gas and electricity, as well as enhanced energy management, conservation, environmental stewardship and community assistance. The company also has an estimated annual economic impact of $5 billion of output in its service area, supporting more than 9,500 local jobs and producing $923 million in labor income. BGE is a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), the nation’s leading competitive energy provider. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.