BALTIMORE (AP) — This week’s extreme heat and a transformer problem triggered the first “emergency event” in four years for Baltimore Gas and Electric’s energy-saving program that allows the utility to turn off participants’ heating and air conditioning units when demand is the highest. In exchange, participants save $50 to $100 per year.

BGE announced Sunday that the six-hour event Friday reduced peak energy demand by more than 600 megawatts and helped avoid brownouts and rolling blackouts.

Some participants complained that they were without air conditioning for up to 10 hours on Friday as their homes reached 90 degrees. The utility says some participants may have had other problems that kept their air conditioners off longer.

A Maryland Public Service Commission spokeswoman says the regulatory panel doesn’t believe the utility did anything wrong.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (32)
  1. paul says:

    BGE and Baltimore City are effing nuts! You turn residents power off in the middle of a heat wave to save energy? I’m sure seniors and people with health problems loved this!!!!

  2. paul says:

    BGE and Baltimore City are effing nuts! You turn residents power off in the middle of a heat wave to save energy? I’m sure seniors and people with health problems loved this!!!!

    1. Colliemom says:

      BG&E has offered this Energy Saver program for many years. They have a clear explaination of it; if you agree to allow them to cycle off your AC in times of peak loads (this helps prevents a total black out of large areas due to system failures), they give you a credit on your electric bill year round. You can chose how much of a cut back they do; the more you agree to, the more cash credit you get each month. These people complaining read about the program, signed on that they agreed to do it, pocketed the money monthly for many years when it wasn’t needed. Now that BG&E needed it a few times in a few days, they are yelling? I’m sick and tired of people complaining about things they agreed to. If they want to cancel it, fine – just pay back all of the money you saved the last few years. Mine was cut off for awhile, just as I agreed to; had a few warmer hours then came back on. BG&E only did this to people who signed up for the program; it wasn’t a surprise!

      1. myself says:

        Thank you, I am so tired of hearing people complain when they are the ones who signed up for the program. They will take the credits but the first time it happens they are whining and moaning. It was very hot, for everyone..and it will be cold in the winter……Get over it!

      2. Lisa Yeager says:

        BUT…any money that you received during the year certainly would not be worth the amount that it just took for my unit to work on over drive to bring the temperature back normal?

      3. Ellen says:

        AND when we all signed up for the program, we were told they would only cycle for 1 – 3 hours at a time. Yesterday, it cycled over 8 hours and then the AC had to work overtime to cool the house over night. I have been cycled several times over the last 2 years and didn’t ever mind it until yesterday. That was enough for me to balance comfort vs. a few dollars. I will be voluntarily CANCELLING my participation tomorrow morning…

      4. Pam K says:

        I have it in black and white how long they cycled us….. almost 9 hours, I printed the history. My unit is less then a month old, and verified by technician that there was nothing mechanically wrong, just the cyling event. Then, I chose the opt out option as we were becoming ill in the heat and two minutes later, they released the cycling, now I have used an opt out for nothing.. So, now my A/C is running overload to catch up as the house is now 90 degrees and it is 9 pm. Think we slept that night? No. I am aware of the rules to get the rebate and agreed to a few hours, not 9. Turn mine back on and pick on someone else for anything over 3 hours.

      5. Ken says:

        The Peak Rewards credit is not year round. It is for 4 months during the summer, June thru September and saves either $50, $75 or $100 depending on your level of participation. Why anyone would choose a 100% level is beyond me. Those who were complaining their a/c was off for 9 hours on Friday must be at 100% participation which has the highest credit. I am at 50% so my home only warmed 3 degrees during that time with the 15 minute on-off cycle.

      6. Nathalie says:

        Ken, the problem is that as you indicate, the word “cycling” connotes a sometimes-on, sometimes-off situation (like your example of 15 min), but what they actually did was shut it off completely for 9 hours straight (and I am at the 75% level, not 100%). So either they need to choose a new word instead, or else specify somewhere that “cycling” really means “shut off entirely for hours.”

  3. Ang says:

    Go look at BGE’s facebook page. I dont think all those customers on there complaining all had some other issues that made their systems stay off for that long. Nice cover up their BGE. Blame someone else instead of taking responsibility for your own F-up.

  4. Sue says:

    We signed up for the program and the air was off for 7:45 min.

  5. Jeff says:

    I was on BGE’s energy-saving program a few years back. My AC was turned off for over 2 hours on one of the hottest days. BGE claimed they did not turn it off that long. I no longer participate in their energy saving program & I no longer have any problems with my AC being turned off.

  6. Missy says:

    People got exactly what they signed up for. Elderly or any people home during the day shouldn’t have signed up for 100% cycling. I am home with 2 kids and knowing of this potential I signed up for a lower % of cycling and was fine during the emergency, even when my air cycled off. Consumers need to be informed and realize they get what they pay for. Call BGE and change your peak rewards level if you were unhappy, but know you also will save a little less each year.

  7. olga says:

    Mine was out for 10 hours and then they lied about how long it was on the history on my account. Said it was only 7 hrs 45 minutes it was off. The history said the cycling stopped at 5:45 but it didn’t stop until 8:30.
    I emailed them about but haven’t heard back.

  8. Winona Smith-Ogunlana says:

    Well I don’t even remember reading the fine print of them actually turning off and shutdown the whole unit once they did that my house was about 90 degrees, and I had to turn go to the breaker box to get the unit to go back on. I thought the A/C was broke for a minute.

  9. kerri says:

    Yes I signed up for 50% cycling and it is supposed to go 15 min on, 15 min off. Due to the state of emergency they upped me to 75%. My house isn’t insulated that well and my AC units are on the older side, so when I got home my house was 87 degrees. My dog was in her crate and was very lethargic. I had to hose her down to cool her off. It was awful I immediately canceled. %0 $ Its not worth the life of my pets, or the aggravation of sitting in a 90 degree house on the hottest day of the year!

    1. Missy says:

      I think it is perfectly reasonable for someone in your situation to need to cancel the program. I hope your dog has recovered from the lethargy. I hope on the other hand that people with better insulated houses, especially those who are gone during the day and don’t have pets at home, will stick with the program because reducing the usage where we can helps prevent rolling blackouts. I had those where I used to live in L.A. and that was horrible because no one could avoid them.

    2. Pam K says:

      My dog also suffered. So glad i had left fans on.

  10. Misty says:

    We are definately having that program taken off of our AC. It was 106 outside Friday and it was 96.5 degrees in our house. We’re lucky our dog made it until we got home. We had no idea they were turning our AC off for 7 hours, and it was never explained to us that BGE could turn it off 100%. We are only supposed to be cycled every 15 minutes not for over 7 hours. This is ridiculous. We could have lost our dog to this. BGE will definatley be hearing from a lot of people. The saved money isn’t worth losing a loved one unnecessarily on a hot day.

  11. Robyn says:

    7 hours without AC is ridicules.My AC ran 10 hours straight after this because the house temp reached 90 degrees. Where did I save a dime??? Not to mention the strain it put on my unit having to run so long to cool the house back down. Face it BGE blew it and we all know it. I have only been on this program since last fall and I am getting out of it Monday morning.

    1. Serena says:

      I completely agree, my unit ran all night long constantly and in the morning was still only at 78. This saved me nothing, and I’m getting out Monday morning too. At least if I had been warned, I could’ve come home early from work and turned on my ceiling fans and window A/C unit – my cats were half dead too after being cooped up in a sweatbox all day. This is just total bullsh-t.

  12. Nathalie says:

    I signed up at a 75% cycling rate, which to me meant that they would cycle my A/C off 45 minutes out of every hour (which = 75%), so I would still be getting SOME air conditioning throughout the day. That is reasonable. Instead, I had no A/C at all for about 9 hours straight, and the temp in my house was 89 all afternoon. That is not reasonable.

  13. Jane says:

    I have it and I hate it. It is still 90 degrees in my house. Calling tomorrow and having the whole thing removed. Never again will I do this.

  14. Paul says:

    How about bge upgrading their existing infrastructure and being better regulated, so people don’t have to try and save 50-100 bucks per year on their energy bills. Secondly, you still can’t explain to me why bge would turn off people’s power during a heatwave.
    Plain and simple. If this company needs to save power during high usage times to stop rolling blackouts. They simply need to upgrade their existing system.
    Why would an energy company want to shut off it’s customers power during a high usage period anyway? The only reason is because of a lack of maintenance, yet your gas and electric fees are some of the highest in the area.

  15. Missy says:

    Paul, I think you are so right! But… can it be better regulated since utilities were de-regulated. We were stationed in CA during their deregulation fiasco and am so disappointed that Maryland still went along with it later. Is there any incentive to improve infrastructure? It doesn’t look like it to me.

  16. dove says:

    electric was off from 1130 am to 730 am. what happened to my meats? yeah!!

  17. Paul says:

    Yes, energy companies are deregulated, meaning new providers can enter the market. But any business can be regulated via State Delegates. Pricing, rate increases, etc.. The fact is BGE has terrible service, outrageous rates, and lie constantly about their operation procedures, or lack there of. My advice, purchase your power from another provider.

    1. Pam K says:

      I am looking into that right now.

  18. craig says:

    What people are not saying is that you are not able to determin when this will occour. By the time you notice it is 85 degrees. There is no message on my thermostat indicating the ac is cut off. This occoured about two weeks ago and i call my HVAC people thinking my unit was boken. I have no problem with the cut off just let me know via text or phone call to better prepare myself. I mean what if i had eldery people over i had no idea.

  19. Pantyhose says:

    I’m dropping the program. I never expected my air to be off ALL day. In the past, the furnace fan would at least run to move the air. Friday…nothing. Whoop dee doo! A lousy $100 bucks to have my AC run all night Friday.

  20. Paul says:

    1 day later and now there is an article that, Md will be investigating BGE’s power saving program because of so many complaints. Good Job.

  21. Robyn Kalwa says:

    BGE blew it. I’m hearing that about half the people in peaks reward have bailed out.I’m so happy to hear Md will be investigating them. Lets just hope it does some good.

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