By Jannette J. Witmyer
Special to the AFRO
As restrictions have increased under the state of emergency declared by Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, BGE has risen to the challenge and steadily ramped up the provision of much-needed information, support, and services to its residential and business customers. A proven community partner, Central Maryland’s largest electric and natural gas utility is making every effort to ensure that its customers have access to the information and services they need.
Providing ongoing support is of the utmost importance to BGE’s Chief Customer Officer and Senior Vice President of Customers Operations Tamla Olivier, and she said, “At BGE, the safety of our customers, employees and communities has always been our priority. We cannot and will not waver from that, especially now.”
In order to ensure the safety of all concerned, BGE is stringently following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and has taken additional measures with respect to employee meetings and travel, and social distancing and personal protection practices while interacting with customers.
As a part of that effort, the company has suspended service disconnections for residential and business accounts (effective March 13), is waiving new late payments fees (through at least June 1), and is establishing payment plans on a case-by-case basis and helping to identify other energy assistance options. Additionally, BGE is working to restore service to customers whose service was shut off prior to March 13. In order to begin the reconnection process, those customers are advised to contact BGE at 800-685-0123.
Residential customers who may be facing financial difficulties are encouraged to explore payment options like Budget Billing and flexible payment arrangements. Additional information about these programs and others is available in BGE’s Community Resource Guide at BGE.com. Also, registering online for BGE’s web-based interactive tool, My Account, provides access to a detailed analysis of customer’s energy usage and offers tips for saving money and energy.
BGE is also providing access to resources/programs for business customers seeking guidance in the areas of:
– Smart Energy Economic Development (SEED): BGE’s SEED Program – new or expanding businesses may be eligible for a 75% discount on construction costs and/or 25% discount on monthly distribution and demand charges (bge.com/economicdevelopment)
Business customers can also contact BGE’s Business Customer Service Team (BCST), which has been trained, specifically, to address commercial customer account needs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-265-6177.
To further protect its customers, BGE is warning customers to be wary of scammers pretending to represent the company and using the coronavirus as a way to steal money or gain access to personal information such as credit card and bank account numbers. The company advises anyone who feels that he or she may have been targeted to immediately report the encounter to their local police and BGE at 800-685-0123. Visit bge.com/coronavirus for additional details.
A steadfast community partner, BGE is a longtime supporter of area nonprofits and has continued to do so during these critical times through a joint donation of $1 million with Exelon, its parent company and Constellation subsidiary, to United Way of Central Maryland, the Maryland Food Bank, and the Baltimore Community Foundation. “We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our nonprofit partners who are essential in helping all of us get through this pandemic,” said Rodney Oddoye, senior vice president of governmental and external affairs for BGE. “Recognizing that vulnerable populations and the organizations that support them need help now more than ever, BGE is encouraging all who can to lend their support, as well.”
While there is no way to know how long this crisis will continue, BGE pledges to seeing things through to the end with its customers, a commitment that Olivier confidently confirms. “In addition to our commitment to helping our residential customers get through this crisis, BGE serves a critical role which enables our business customers to fulfill their missions of providing goods and services and contributing to the state’s economy. From start-ups to businesses with deep roots in central Maryland, BGE is partnering with our customers as we navigate our way through this pandemic together. As a community, we will come out of this better and stronger.”
For additional information about BGE’s COVID-19-related response, preparedness and customer service options, visit their online pandemic resource page at bge.com/coronavirus.