Service restored to nearly 90 percent or almost 200,000 customers since Wednesday
Utility unable to read some meters during height of storm; customers advised to call actual readings into BGE to avoid estimated bills
Customers also advised to avoid downed wires and report them immediately at 1-877-778-2222
BALTIMORE, Jan. 28, 2011 – Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) today announced that it is on track to restore electric service to the vast majority of remaining customers affected by this week’s major snow storm – one of the most damaging winter storms in BGE’s history - by late Saturday with some scattered outages extending into Sunday. The utility has already restored electric service to nearly 200,000 customers and continues to make tremendous progress under very challenging conditions. Customers can stay informed on restoration efforts via Twitter, Face and Flickr.
Due to the storm, which caused 40 percent more outages than the back-to-back February 2010 blizzards combined, BGE was unable to read approximately 150,000 meters and will be estimating bills for those affected customers. However, customers may provide BGE with actual readings and the company will adjust their bills accordingly. Instructions on how to read a meter can be found on www.bge.com in the section entitled Meter Reading 101. A meter reading video demonstration is also part of the virtual home tour in the Winter Ready section of BGE’s website.
“BGE is proactively reaching out directly to customers whose meters were scheduled to be read on Jan. 26, 27 and 28, to inform them of the option to provide us with actual readings and avoid an estimated bill,” said Jeannette M. Mills, senior vice president of customer relations and account services for BGE. “Ideally, customers should provide us with this information within a few days of being contacted or within one week of receiving an estimated bill. If customers don’t provide us with an actual reading, the next time BGE is able to obtain an actual reading, usage will be “trued-up” to ensure customers are only billed for the energy actually used.”
More than 2,000 people, including 800 out-of-state linemen and support staff, are actively engaged in storm restoration activity. Some are physically repairing or replacing electric delivery equipment, others are working in BGE’s storm center, call center and other locations. Mutual assistance is being provided by crews from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.
“While BGE has restored electric service to nearly 90 percent of the affected customers, there are still approximately 2,650 outage-related jobs remaining, out of a total of 4,700 outage-related jobs,” said A. Christopher Burton, senior vice president of gas and electric operations and planning for BGE. “BGE has made tremendous progress in just a few days, but we still have a lot of work to do. Additionally, the remaining outage work will likely only restore a handful of customers at a time, unlike the earlier work which typically restored hundreds or thousands of customers at a time. Again, we thank our customers for their continued patience and understanding.”
BGE's restoration priorities are public safety issues and critical facilities, such as 911 centers, hospitals and pumping stations. Then restoration is generally scheduled so that the greatest number of customers can be restored as quickly and as safely as possible. However, in cases of extended power outages, consideration is also given to customers who have been without service for the longest.
Just as BGE prepares for severe weather and the possibility of power outages, customers should also be prepared and take steps to ensure the safety of their families and property during electric service interruptions. Customers should keep the following items readily available:
Flashlights – not candles
Battery operated clock radio
Fully charged cell phone
Customers also should consider filling the fuel tanks of their vehicles in the event a power outage affects service to neighborhood gas stations. For customers who rely on well water, filling a bathtub with water in advance of severe weather is strongly encouraged.
Customers are always reminded to stay away from downed power lines and to report them immediately by calling 1-877-778-2222. If you are experiencing a power outage and have not reported it, please report your outage by calling BGE’s automated response system at 1-877-778-2222. For more information about BGE storm preparation and how customers can protect their families and property, go to www.bge.com.
Customers with special needs, such as those who may be elderly, handicapped or dependent on electricity for medical equipment, should have alternate arrangements in place should they experience an extended power outage. Customers using a generator or space heater should follow manufacturer instructions and be sure to locate generators in well-ventilated areas.
In addition to monitoring current and approaching weather conditions which could result in service interruptions, BGE regularly conducts emergency training drills during which all aspects of storm related service restoration are tested. BGE also reviews its Electric Delivery Emergency Response Plan to ensure that storm response procedures are up-to-date and in line with industry standards.
BGE, www.bge.com, headquartered in Baltimore, is Maryland’s largest gas and electric utility, delivering power to more than 1.2 million electric customers and more than 640,000 natural gas customers in Central Maryland. The company’s approximately 3,000 employees are committed to the safe and reliable delivery of gas and electricity, as well as enhanced energy management, conservation, environmental stewardship and community assistance. BGE is a subsidiary of Constellation Energy, www.constellation.com, a FORTUNE 500 company also headquartered in Baltimore, with subsidiaries that generate, sell and provide other energy-related services to customers throughout North America.