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BGE drops national ranking in energy efficiency, report says

According to the report, BGE is not prioritizing efficiency programs for customers who face the greatest burdens from high energy costs. Photo by Sarah Y. Kim/WYPR.
Sarah Y. Kim
According to the report, BGE is not prioritizing efficiency programs for customers who face the greatest burdens from high energy costs.

As summer draws to a close and winter approaches, the 2023 Utility Scorecard ranks Baltimore Gas & Electric as 12th of 53. That’s a drop in its national ranking, which was #5 in the last assessment in 2020.

The American Council on an Energy-Efficient Economy, ACEEE, released the utility scorecard Thursday. Every three years, the nonprofit research organization evaluates the largest electric utilities in the nation, on their efforts to save energy.

According to the report, BGE is not prioritizing efficiency programs for customers who face the greatest burdens from high energy costs. The study goes on to say the utility has low levels of community engagement during program development, has a lack of efficiency workforce initiatives and fails to direct customers at risk of utility shutoff toward efficiency programs that could lower their bills.

Sanya Carley is a Presidential Distinguished Professor of Energy Policy and City Planning at the University of Pennsylvania. During a webinar on the report, Dr. Carley focused on another finding that advances clean energy. The professor said better metrics are needed to track energy burdens, or the percentage of income a person spends on energy.

“The energy burden measure is incomplete,” warned Carley. “It doesn't include those who might use very dangerous financial or behavioral strategies in order to avoid high bills and being disconnected.” Such strategies include heavily rationing heating and cooling.

She said the average American spends 3% of income on energy. However, energy burdens may be higher for households of color, and for people living in certain regions of the country.

BGE participates in EMPOWER Maryland, a statewide energy and cost savings program.

Click here to find ways to reduce costs and increase your energy efficiency.

In response to the report, BGE sent WYPR the following statement:

While the report highlighted specific areas, BGE is dedicated to providing safe, reliable, and equitable energy to our customers. We understand that many of our customers may be struggling to pay bills. BGE has a self-service, online Assistance Finder tool, giving residential customers a new way to explore and receive personalized energy assistance program recommendations. The Assistance Finder is a one-stop-shop for anyone seeking energy assistance that can be accessed on mobile or the web. Using a brief questionnaire based on a customer’s household information, the tool identifies assistance options, then provides easy to follow steps to apply.

Overall, BGE is proud of our results. For 13 straight years we’ve been named an EPA Energy Star Partner of the Year, yet we still are looking to improve our offerings and adoption, including the programs for limited income customers.

BGE is also extremely proud of our workforce development program, which rather than focusing just on efficiency workforce opportunities, helps students and eligible adults to train for jobs throughout the energy industry. Since this program’s inception in 2019, 80% of program graduates are employed with BGE contractors, and earn an average of $35K annually. Other workforce development initiatives include:

  • Smart Energy Internship

    • Hands-on experience for high-achiever high school students from partner CTE high schools.
  • CAST test preparation

    • Partnership with the South Baltimore Learning Center and CTEs to offer a free Construction and Skilled Trades (CAST) test prep course. Passing this test is required to work in many construction industries.
  • Youth Energy Days

    • Networking and learning events for high school students interested in a career in the utility industry.
  • Workforce Collaborative

    • Partnership with Civic Works to provide utility construction and job readiness training for adults who are underemployed or unemployed. Since the program launched in 2019, nearly 200 individuals have graduated with over 80% receiving jobs earning on average $37k annually.
Wambui Kamau is a General Assignment Reporter for WYPR. @WkThee
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