BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A program at BGE designed to save customers money comes under fire.  Many people across Maryland lost air conditioning for hours during the hottest day ever recorded in Baltimore.

Adam May takes a closer look at Peak Rewards.

BGE is considering some major changes to their Peak Rewards program after tens of thousands of customers complained during the weekend heat wave.

When the temperatures in Baltimore hit 108 Friday, flowers weren’t the only thing that wilted.

“Look at my face.  I am sweating to death,” said Bobbie McKinney.

McKinney enrolled in BGE’s Peak Rewards program, so her air conditioning was shut off for more than six hours.

“Certainly, we are looking at how this program worked Friday [and] what we might want to do better,” said Linda Foy, BGE.

Under Peak Rewards, customers get up to $200 if they agree to power cycling.  That means they can shut off air conditioning units during emergency events.  Friday was the first time they’ve done it since the program started.

Now the state’s utility watchdog is looking into BGE’s actions.  The chairman of the Public Service Commission says they will address complaints, but it’s premature to say if the program worked as planned.

“We absolutely know that we need to do a better job of making sure our customers know what they signed up for,” Foy said.

About 350,000 customers are enrolled in Peak Rewards and 2,500 of them have withdrawn since Friday.  Another 1,300 have made changes.

McKinney is done.

“I tell you one thing, this box is coming out,” she said.

Not all the Peak Rewards customers were unhappy.  BGE supplied emails from a few customers thanking them for turning off their air conditioners to avoid a total brown-out.

BGE is planning to mail Peak Rewards customers a reminder about how the program works.

Comments (45)
  1. BGE Victim says:

    Thank You! Yes, how is there any savings at all…..25.00 credit and without AC for several hours. It took 12 hours to re-cool my home and I can’t even imagine what my bill will be. A heat pump takes 1-hour per degree and no help from BGE! I’ll bet they get another $100.00 out of me from just one day of their program. Peak Rewards phone number was off the hook (busy) and BGE representatives including the managers read from a script. They actually told me to go sit in my car with the AC on. I had been very sick and even offered to have my doctor call them so they would turn my air back on. They promised to shut it down and I called back to find out they hadn’t.



    1. Dan says:

      As usual, the people making comments don’t know what they are talking about. Cycling will absolutely, positively reduce your overall energy consumption, not to mention the $25/mo credit.

      The funny thing is people whine and moan about how awful the elevated temperatures are, but only the very sickest and most fragile people are at risk from this, and there are VERY VERY few deaths associated with events like this. The people who die in these conditions are typically the homeless or those who do not have adequate hydration.

      Also, the alternative to this is rolling blackouts. I guess as a selfish person, you’d prefer that than have to live without A/C for several hours. What a spoiled little brat.

      1. ALETA says:


      2. kerri says:

        I spoke to someone at BGE and no matter what you signed up for in a “state of emergency” they cycled everyone at 75% which meant our AC was off for 45 min of every hour from 11:30am until 7:30pm. my house was 94 degrees. My AC ran continuously all night, all the next day, and into the next the next night before it got down to 74 degrees again. sorry I’m a “spoiled little brat” if I don’t want to walk into a 94 degree house at 8:00 at night after a 12 hour shift and try to sleep so I can get up at 6am and go work for another 12 hours. Plus my dog was sick when I got home. If they wanted to conserve some energy they could have cycled at the agreed upon time at night all week. Its not like they can’t watch the news and see the heat wave coming. I think that different demographics got cycled differently as well, because some people stated their house only reached 75 degrees… that’s impossible with 75% cycling for 8 hours on a 108 degree day.

      3. Maryland is Ripped Off By BGE!! says:

        Surely Dan or a close family member is employed by BGE. Why would anyone defend such a money hungry giant!
        BGE Energy Savings Program is a PR stunt and a failed attempt to divert Marylanders from the real problem which stems back to the Parris Glendening governor relation with BGE. Marylander are getting scalped by BGE cost hikes over the short period that they have been allowed to raise rates beyond the national prices charged by other utilities in other states. We are being ripped off by BGE with the blessing of our beloved Maryland state government all the while that BGE plays PR diversion games to keep out focus off the real crime, inflated utility prices for no substantial improvements nor competitive process!!!

    2. Jen says:

      I called because my apartment was at 95 degrees and I have 2 small children under 3, I live in an apartment community with alot of elderly people they really need to look into who lives where as the news said elderly young and sick should not be exposed to the heat and it was a code red for air quality I called they said they would send it to a manager to have my air turned back on and it was NEVER turned back on, they didn’t turn off the savings until 9pm!

  2. BeauW says:

    While Peak Rewards has worked fine for me most of the time, I did have 1 event perhaps 10 – 12 years ago that nearly made me quit the program. My air conditioning, like BGE Victim, was off for several hours. It continued to be off for at least 4 or 5 hours after I realized the AC was off. That hasn’t occurred since, but it seems an excessively long time to cycle a person off.

  3. tylerjake78 says:

    They probably don’t want everyone to know this but more than likely these “smart meters” were hacked into. They’re very susceptible to hackers getting into these and causing mayhem. That’s something else BGE won’t tell you.

  4. PANTYHOSE says:

    I knew my ac compressor wouldn’t run, however I was told that the furnace fan would continue to run and circulate the air. Well, the fan didn’t run and my home reached 88 degrees. Never again. I’ve withdrawn from the program. Peak Rewards rewards BGE, not the consumer.

    1. customer says:

      I had the same problem. I returned home on Frdiay, around 5 pm and my thermostat read 85 degress. I call BGE and told them to take me off the peak rewords. The customer service rep was more concerned about me not getting my $25. discount. Also, I noticed last year I received $50 discount for June, July, August and September. They cut back on the discount.

      1. Ken says:

        If you recieved a $50 discount for EACH month for the summer then you must have been on 100% cycling or the total time of the event. I am on 50% cycling and recieve $50 for the summer or $12.50 per month. At 50% cycling my outdoor a/c unit was cycled on for 15 minutes and then off for fifteen minutes continuously during the whole event and my house temperature was raised a total of 3 degreesa above setpoint of 76 degrees. For those whose indoor fan shut down during a cycling event, your thermostat should be set to control the fan on air conditioning, not the outside unit which is being cycled. The indoor fan should run until the thermostat reaches the temperature which you have set it on. Some digital thermostats have this setting in the programming instructions.

      2. matt says:

        customer if you read what you sign up for, BGE tells you that your 1st year discount will be doubled. After that, and for the next 3 years your discount will be at the regular rate. just another people not reading what they signed up for.

  5. Confused says:

    I was also a victim on this BGE rewards program. I came home early from work on Friday and my apt was at 92 degrees. But when I called they told me my credit was only $10 for the months of June-Sept. Why in the world was mine so much less than everyone elses???? Plus, I never signed up for this, the tenant before me had it and it rolled over to me w/out any explanations.

  6. Janice Fultz-Saunders says:

    yes i must say friday i came home from a long days work and my house was 84 degrees…i have pets and kids, why turn off the A/c for 7 hours when it takes longer to cool the back down…i can see and hour here and hour there but 7 hours. how miserable it was,might just get window units and do my own peak rewards!!!

  7. April M says:

    While everyone else got their ac shut off for about 6 hours, did the BGE staff have to sit in the heat too? I bet they didn’t have their ac shut off or turned down!

    1. Dan says:

      I’m going to take a wild guess and say they didn’t have their A/C shut off, just like every other commercial location. The BGE staff, unlike you, are probably also in buildings with lots of electrical equipment that generates heat and needs to be kept cool. There are probably also a lot of them in one place, unlike you, where you have an entire house to yourself that has to be kept cool (not to mention additional body heat contained by the building). So the situation is completely different.

      Now, if you want to talk about BGE employees residences, my guess is that they got their A/C shut off with everyone else if they were on PeakRewards, and they didn’t if they weren’t.

      1. Ken says:

        Sometimes Dan it is like beating a dead horse or talking to a cinder block.

  8. Kim Merryman says:

    our AC was off for three days, and I can’t even get through to BGE to complain. I have young children and pets. My house reached almost 90 degrees. I am furious. A few hours is fine, 3 days is unacceptable. I will be withdrawing from the program as it seems they are unable to monitor properly. We had to use fans just to get some comfort. So where are the savings now?

    1. Dan says:

      Using fans is clearly cheaper than A/C. You are the first person to complain the A/C was off for 3 days, perhaps it was a personal problem. As for your house reaching almost 90 degrees… You do know that many parts of the world don’t have air conditioning and that we lived for thousands of years without air conditioning and somehow survived. I’m not hearing how you or your kids or pets fell ill. I’m only 34 and when I was a kid and it was hot, I went swimming.

      1. Ken says:

        Sounds like you found another dead horse and\or cinder block there Dan.

    2. William says:

      There is no way the program cut your AC off for 3 days. My house reached about 87 degrees and I just sat and tolerated. The program is designed to keep the electricity from maxing out and shutting down the grid. This would have hard times for hospitals, retirement homes, etc. I know that when I was a kid we had no AC at all in our house and we used a fan to tolerate it when the heat got hign. Too many people are just thinking of themselves and that is not the way we are to spend our lives. Think about others.

  9. TooHot says:

    Sounds like DAN should work for the BGE Peak Rewards Complaints Department. The whole idea of cycling is just that; it’s cycled on for 15 off for 15 not completely shut off for hours during the hottest hours of the day. It’s not just the elderly who suffer from heat related heath issues.

  10. whatnow says:

    Sounds like Dan and Ken work for BGE. I had it on my a/c at my old apartment, no choice to me, $10 a month credit. They cycled it 5 days in a row, each day it went up to 87 degrees. It takes half the night to cool back down so I know I was not saving money. Also, after the 4th day, I had to take one of my cats to the vet for heat exhaustion, cost $300. I asked BGE to take it off, they said they couldn’t, the apt. complex had to, I asked them, they said no. I ripped it off mysellf, stayed cool and saved money because the air didn’t run all night! BGE are bigger con men then Madoff and he is in jail!

    1. Dan says:

      #1) I’m quite confident that BGE will remove any devices that were installed with the consent of whoever’s name is on the account. If they refused to remove the device, I’m willing to bet you weren’t paying the electrical bill.

      #2) Once again… You are just plain wrong regarding saving money. If you shut off the A/C and the temperature in the apartment rises, and then you turn it back on again later (to the same temperature) your total energy consumption from the time it is shut off to the time at which the temperature is back to the set temperature will be lower than if it had been continuously on. You may think otherwise because it feels good for you to say it, or because it seems like the A/C is running a lot, but it doesn’t make it true.

      #3) And if your cat is suffering from heat exhaustion at a maximum of 87 degrees, I don’t know what to tell you…

      1. whatnow says:

        Dan you lost your bet. I WAS paying the electric. As to #2 above, you can repeat yourself like you are a parent talking to a recalcitrant child all you like, but I can verify from my bills, once I got rid of that contramption and compared bills using like average temperatures, my bill was lower because it runs less to maintain then to lower 15 degrees, and thirdly, your callousness regarding my cat’s health tells me all I need to know about you.

      2. Can't believe the candy a$$es says:

        What you tell them is that they are full of it….

  11. d glen burnie says:

    to start with I do not work for bge, but this is new to all .at least give them a chance to work this out I have and mine does 15 minutes every 2 hours and has saved me about $1oo.oo per month I live in aa county maybe they have it right I love and will keep it. have not had mine go below 75 through all this heat .

    1. whatnow says:

      This is a newly named program, the program has been in existence for over 10 years.

  12. Michael says:

    This event might not have been so bad if we could get through to ask that our AC be released. I have a heart conditiion and I can not take the heat. I called and was on hold for 15 minutes, they finally answered and transferred me to another area and was on hold for 30 minutes. I had sweat pouring down my T shirt, on my ear from holding the phone – I finally hung up the phone and posted a nasty gram on a website. Within 5 minutes someone called and said they would release my AC back to me. I don’t feel that I should have to get ready, leave my home and go to a mall because I have health issues, I should be able to get into their system and request the AC be released back to me. I would like to keep the program but not at the expense of my health. This is all a lack of common sense on BGE’s part, none of us knew that “an event” could mean several hours so when the new paperwork comes to my house I will re-read it and if there is something that I don’t like then I will definitely discontinue being in the program because it is not worth it to have your compressor run all night long to bring your home back to a bearable temperature. It would have been better to turn people off for an hour, back on for an hour, etc. then shut us down the way that did on a day of record breaking temperature. I bet the businesses did not have their system shut down but homes were. I do appreciate that they released my AC but they should also have a list of customers who have health conditions so they can adjust us accordingly.

    1. matt says:

      a list of people with health conditions, are you kidding? that’s going to be a huge number of people and almost impossible to sort. How about if you think your health issues may be effected negatively by the heat, dont sign up for a program that cycles your A/C. furthermore, people 50 or so years ago were able to survive with health issues in the heat. im sorry that you dont like the heat, but it really is your problem. take some responsibility.

  13. BlueClaw says:

    If people have heath conditions, they shouldn’t be on that program to begin with. Saving money over your health is never a good option. However, I grew up and spent most of my life without A/C. I have it now and love it..don’t get me wrong, but hearing so many people complain about a house that is 85-90 degrees makes me shake my head. We couldn’t afford A/C growing up. We learned to deal with it.

    1. matt says:

      i would like to shake your hand. we live in a time where it’s always someone elses fault. sometimes people need to say to themselves, “this is mostly my problem, i need to be smarter about the decisions I make.”

  14. Aleta says:

    I must be at 50% I do not know because my apartment complex signed everyone up before I moved in, I did not know I was being cycled down until the last itme it got up to 100, and it stayed 85 in my house. I found out because my neighbor called BGE and was told we enrolled….she was furious because she did not. BGE told us the only way to get out of the program was to have the “smart thermostat” removed and the old kind put back in!!! CRAZY right…True story!! Because our community had these thermostats installed we are stuck having our air condition cycled!! If it work the way they said it was supposed to it would be GREAT!! BUT there was a failure somewhere. Turning of compressors completely is inhumane!!! And to say this is the first time they turned off compressors is a lie, the first time it reached 100 in B-More my compressor was turned off for almost 5 hours…. with 2 fans running and every window covered in black towels to keep the sun out we managed to keep it at a bearable 85…..This system needs to be evaluated, because it failed horribly!!!

    1. ALETA says:


  15. Nathalie says:

    The problem is that their own writen materials (“BGE will turn your air conditioning compressor off and on for brief periods (cycling) based on the cycling participation level that you choose”) and the commonly understood meaning of the word “cycling” indicate a sometimes-off, sometimes-on situation. Like maybe 40 minutes off, 20 minutes on every hour. But instead they shut it completely off for 9 hours straight (and I am at the 75% level, not the 100% level). Either they need to choose a different word, or they need to specify that “cycling” actually means “shut off entirely for hours on end.”

  16. Sam says:

    Here’s an idea for all of you. Don’t be stupid as*es and sign up for Big Brother to control anything that runs in your house. When those reps knock or call, I tell them that they and any other Democrat ran energy saving, smart grid, BS can suck a fat one. I was loving life that day in my 68 degree house eating lots of trans fat filled Big Mac’s in styrofoam containers, sitting on my baby seal skin couch, with a side of un-dolphin friendly tuna. Pave the bay!


    1. whatnow says:

      I love it (except I do think baby seals are cute!)!!!!!!!

  17. Ramachandran Pillai says:

    People get upset very quickly never thinking of a total; blow out. iI customers cannot make a little sacrifice of living without airconditioning for a few hours, total blow may result in loss of power for days.
    It is imprudent to withdraw from the ‘Peak Rewards Program when it saves us meney every month.

  18. Karen says:

    I signed up for the rewards program, and although I didn’t like that my air was turned off, I survived. However, when by Sunday my house had not cooled off I became alarmed. I checked my outside unit to find that it wasn’t cooling. So, I called and AC repair man out on a Sunday to have my ac repaired. Well guess what……BGE still had me locked out, they had never restored AC to me from Friday.

    1. matt says:

      this is an issue to get upset about. BGE was clearly at fault. not all these other people, I signed up for a program that i didnt understand and didnt ask questions and now my pet and I are hot.

  19. Colby says:

    I had the Peak Rewards and I canceled mine last week also. It would have been nice if they would have notified us that that they were doing this because we called a friend to come out and look at our AC because the temp. kept raising. My house reached 90 by 4pm . I called BGE to see if that was the problem after our friend told us our system was fine and they told me that they had cut our system off for cycling. I explained to the gentleman that was on the phone that i understand the situation and the need to conserve energy however I have 5 kids and one how has a medical condition that if she gets over heated she will start vomiting and get extremely sick and I need them to turn my AC back on. He told me he would be unable to do that unless I canceled my peak rewards so that’s what i did. Now i am not a house that has my thermostat low it is set at 78 everyday and I am not even saving that much money I just got my last bill and I saved $13 last month on it. It is not worth the health of my child unless they do something better they will loose a lot more customers and we are going to have a lot more problems with power shortages

  20. people says:

    sounds like you should have canceled the program when you knew you child had an overheating problem. this one is on you not BGE. be a smarter parent.

  21. fraught says:

    One word – Duh.

  22. tml says:

    I have had peak rewards since its inception years ago, when it used to be called something else. When they went to a new type switch, the mechanic was outside for over 3 hrs. When I went to use the ac for the first time, several weeks later (we actually don’t use it very much), it didn’t work. Turned out he had wired something backwards! Anyway, I know I reap the savings on my summer bills, but cycling means off and on to me, not off for over 7 hrs. I will not cancel due to this one bad time, hopefully they will figure out a better way in severe heat. My upstairs did get to about 92, but downstairs was only about 85, not too bad and everything was cooled down by late evening. I don’t think people would’ve been so upset had they had any idea it could happen.

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