BALTIMORE - With the sun beating down and the temperature on the rise, a heat advisory reminded some BGE customers of the triple-digit conditions last year when the utility kicked in its Peak Rewards cycling.
"They just shut it off. I think maybe it was a day... day and a half and it kicked back on again," said Mike Lynch of Brooklyn.
The voluntary energy demand program pays customers up to $200 to shut down their air conditioners in cycles during times when the regional electric grid is being taxed the most.
Last year’s shut downs came with little or no warning.
"We have about an hour to execute the activation. So it's kind of a real quick thing," said Rob Gould, a spokesman for BGE’s parent company, but he adds the utility has learned from its mistake, "We ought to treat hot weather and the Peak Rewards program like a storm that's come through, and by that I mean heavy communications to customers. Many of the participants in the program, including myself, had not received any communications from the utility since they had signed up a year, two years or three years earlier."
The company has sent out letters, allowed people to sign up for email alerts and will even use robocalls the night before when it sees a shutdown coming, but many of its customers aren’t buying into the program.
"I'm pretty much in control of my thermostat,” said Thaddeus Wade of Brooklyn, “I turn it off when I'm ready and turn it on when I'm ready. I save my own money pretty much."
"I'm in there. It's 102 outside and my air goes off and I fall out and die and then what?” queried Linda Gulliver of Southwest Baltimore, “No. It's not worth $200."
BGE also says it was caught off guard last year at the time it took to kick customers’ air conditioners back on, and it has taken steps to insure they’re not shut down any longer than they’re supposed to be.
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