Baltimore Gas and Electric Company

About Baltimore Gas and Electric Company

The largest gas and electric utility in Maryland is the Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE), originally founded in 1816. BGE has grown to become the utility responsible for the transmission and distribution of natural gas and electric power in Baltimore City and much of the surrounding area.

Baltimore Gas and Electric is a founding member of PJM Interconnection. PJM is a Regional Transmission Organization (RTO), or interconnected grid formed through the cooperation of many utility companies, that serves to enhance the reliability of electricity service over a large area. PJM was formed in 1956 by utility companies from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland, including BGE, and today includes the utilities in all or parts of thirteen states, plus the District of Columbia.

History of BGE

Baltimore Gas and Electric Company is the oldest gas utility in the United States and one of the oldest electric utilities.

1816:
Rembrandt Peale received City Council approval to light Baltimore City streets with gas lamps. He founded the Gas Light Company of Baltimore, the first gas company in America, which would later become BGE.
1842-50:
The company completed two miles of gas main and finally became profitable. During this time, individual gas meters replaced flat-rate billing, which made gas lighting affordable for middle class customers.
1855:
The company constructed a new plant where gas was distilled from coal instead of from tar or wood.
1867:
Four rival gas companies were founded. Each one in turn tore up the city streets over again, in order to lay its own gas lines. Traffic in the center of the city was often impossible.
1888:
After the public insisted that something had to be done, the government oversaw a series of consolidations. The final result was that all the gas companies were merged into one, called the Consolidated Gas Company of Baltimore.
1896:
The first large scale central electricity generating station in the United States opened for business, near Niagara Falls. Following this, many electric companies were started all over the United States. In Baltimore, there again were numerous competing companies, each installing their own overhead power lines. Even with competition, service was not reliable, since power plants were small and inefficient and lines were overloaded.
1906:
United Electric Light and Power Company by now had become the leading electric company in the Baltimore area, and merged with the Consolidated Gas Company to form a combined gas and electric utility. The new company was called the Consolidated Gas Electric Light and Power Company of Baltimore.
1916:
Consolidated introduced central gas heating as well as electric heating.
1920's:
Baltimore City extended its city limits. As a result, Consolidated had to build new power plants and substations, and upgrade existing plants and the distribution system, in order to supply all its new customers.
1930's:
Consolidated opened a chain of appliance and lighting stores, and entered the field of radio broadcasting.
1950's:
Consolidated switched from manufactured to natural gas, and from DC electricity to AC. The name of the company changed to Baltimore Gas and Electric Company, which is still its name today.
1956:
BGE joined with utility companies from New Jersey and Pennsylvania to form the Regional Transmission Organization (RTO) known as PJM Interconnection.
1960's:
BGE began using electronic data processing.
1975:
BGE built its first nuclear power plant, Calvert Cliffs.
1992:
Constellation Energy Group became the holding company for BGE.
1999:
Maryland introduced deregulation, and competition to supply customers with gas and electricity began. BGE switched its focus from being both an energy producer and distributor to distributing energy produced by others.
2000's:
BGE received approval to implement smart grid technology, including the installation of smart meters that allow two-way communication between the company and its customers.
2012:
Constellation Energy Group merged with Exelon Corporation.

BGE Today

Baltimore Gas and Electric Company is Maryland's largest gas and electric utility, with about 3,400 employees. It is a subsidiary of the national energy company Exelon Corporation. The company prides itself on being a leader in technological advances in the industry while also working to preserve the environment and uphold high safety standards.

Gas

As a natural gas utility, BGE:

  • Is responsible for an area covering about 800 square miles, comprising Baltimore City and all or parts of nine Maryland counties, including Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Frederick, Harford, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's.
  • Serves more than 650,000 customers.
  • Is responsible for more than 7,100 miles of natural gas pipelines

Electricity

As an electric utility, BGE:

  • Is responsible for an area covering about 2,300 square miles, comprising Baltimore City and all or parts of eight Maryland counties, including Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Calvert, Carroll, Harford, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's.
  • Serves more than 1,200,000 customers.
  • Is responsible for almost 1,300 circuit miles of high-voltage transmission lines and about 25,000 circuit miles of lower-voltage distribution lines.
  • Has 244 substations.

Customer Service

BGE has a variety of programs that benefit their customers in different ways.

  • Energy Choice: BGE fully cooperates with deregulation and energy choice and provides information to assist customers in choosing an alternative supplier if they prefer.
  • Energy Efficiency and Conservation: BGE Smart Energy Savers program provides information and incentives designed to encourage customers to conserve energy and become more energy efficient.
  • Smart Grid Technology: BGE is in the process of installing smart meters in all the homes and businesses in their service area.
  • Environment: BGE works to preserve the environment and to benefit the communities they serve in other ways, and is beginning to phase in the use of renewable energy in some of their facilities.
  • Billing Assistance: BGE enables customers to pay their bill in a variety of ways and provides assistance for those who have trouble with payments.

Energy Choice

The introduction of deregulation in Maryland means that customers now have a choice from whom to buy their energy. BGE still purchases energy wholesale for those customers who wish to continue to buy it from them, but also distributes energy that customers buy directly from alternative suppliers. Regardless of whom you buy your energy from, BGE will continue to deliver it to your home or business, and will respond to emergency calls and repair requests, and you will continue to pay them for these services.

There are a few reasons why a customer may prefer an alternate supplier. Some suppliers may offer lower prices or contract terms that appeal to the customer. Some suppliers may produce or buy their electric power exclusively from "green” or renewable sources, which some customers may prefer even if the prices are higher.

Standard Offer Service (SOS)

Customers who do not wish to switch suppliers may continue to buy their electricity and gas from BGE, as they have always done. No action is necessary to continue this Standard Offer Service. The rates these customers pay will continue to be regulated by the Maryland Public Service Commission.

Alternative Energy Suppliers

BGE cooperates fully with energy choice programs and raises no opposition if customers choose to switch suppliers.

Generating Your Own Electricity

Some customers supplement their electricity with power from private generators. This is usually done as a backup in case of power failure, but some commercial or industrial customers may generate enough to sell to others. Any private generators that are to be connected to the public power supply must be licensed by the Maryland Public Service Commission. BGE provides assistance with this application process.

Smart Grid Technology

Traditionally, every home or business had electric and gas meters that recorded how much energy was used, and the utility company read this information once a month. A new technology called smart grid technology now enables the use of smart meters that provide two-way information. BGE began to install smart meters in 2012, and plans to complete the installation across their service area by the end of 2014.

Smart grid technology enables BGE to:

  • Notice immediately when there is a power outage.
  • See how much energy each customer is using in real-time, every day.
  • Compile data gathered from many customers across the grid and analyze it to enhance the level of service they provide.

Smart grid technology also enables customers to:

  • See how much electricity they are using.
  • Compare their energy use with their levels in previous months, or to the amount other families with similar homes are using.
  • Reduce their energy usage at peak times.
  • Avail themselves of other money-saving programs.

Preserving the Environment

BGE has received numerous awards for their efforts to preserve wildlife and plant life, both at their facilities and in the communities they serve. They sponsor educational and community outreach programs, plant trees, and work to reduce the number of birds killed by electricity poles.

BGE is phasing in vehicles that use alternative fuels for their company fleet, and currently has two facilities that are partially powered by solar energy

Frequently Asked Questions

When was BGE founded?
In 1916, Rembrandt Peale founded the Gas Light Company of Baltimore, to light Baltimore City streets with gas street lamps. This company was the forerunner of BGE.
When did BGE begin to provide both electricity and gas service?
In 1906, the Consolidated Gas Electric Light and Power Company of Baltimore was formed, by merging the leading gas company and electric company in the Baltimore area. In the 1950's, this company changed its name to the Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE).
When did BGE join PJM?
In 1956, BGE joined with utility companies from Pennsylvania and New Jersey to form PJM Interconnection. PJM (Pennsylvania/‌Jersey/‌Maryland) is a Regional Transmission Organization (RTO), or an interconnected electrical grid, which helps enhance the reliability of service for all of its affiliated utilities. Today, PJM includes utility companies in all or parts of thirteen states and Washington, D.C.
How large is BGE's service area?
BGE distributes electric power over a 2,300-square mile service area in Maryland, which includes Baltimore City and all or parts of Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Calvert, Carroll, Harford, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's counties. BGE distributes natural gas over an 800-square mile service area in Maryland, which includes Baltimore City and all or parts of Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Frederick, Harford, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's counties.
How many customers does BGE serve?
BGE distributes electric power to more than 1,200,000 electricity customers and natural gas to more than 800,000 customers.
How large is BGE's distribution network?
For electricity, BGE has almost 1,300 circuit miles of high-voltage transmission lines, about 25,000 circuit miles of lower-voltage distribution lines, and 244 substations. For natural gas, BGE has over 7,100 miles of gas pipelines.
What are BGE's current rates for electricity and natural gas?
If I am in BGE's distribution area, do I have to buy my electricity and gas from them?
No, you do not. Since Maryland implemented energy deregulation, you have the option of continuing to buy your electricity and/or gas from BGE, or switching to any alternative energy supplier licensed in Maryland. If you switch, BGE will still transmit and distribute that energy to your home or business, and you will pay them for that service, but the rate you pay for the actual energy will be the rate charged by your supplier.
If I don't want to switch suppliers, what do I have to do?
Nothing. Customers who do not contract with any alternative supplier will simply continue to receive their gas and electricity from BGE as they have until now, and BGE will continue to charge them the rates determined by the Maryland Public Service Commission.
Does BGE offer smart grid technology?
BGE is currently installing smart meters in all the homes in their service area to detect power outages and to provide helpful two-way information between customers and the utility. The process has already begun and they plan to complete the installation by the end of 2014.
What billing options does BGE offer?
BGE allows you to pay your bill in a variety of ways, including by phone, mail, online, or automatic withdrawal. Their Budget Billing plan spreads the estimated bill over the year so each month's bill is about the same amount. They have a number of programs to assist people who have trouble paying their bill, including a list of non-profit organizations in Maryland.