A recent message from Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. to utility consumers: It's your problem, not ours.
Last month City Paper received a packet in the mail from BGE noting that the company is spending $6 million over the next three years to encourage consumers to be thrifty when it comes to using their utilities. A press release in the packet notes that BGE has "no control over the cost" of electric and gas commodities, so it is up to the company's customers to "lessen the impact of market forces," including rising global energy prices and the July 1 elimination of electricity rate caps in Maryland, if they want affordable energy bills.
BGE has hired local DIY celeb Allegra Bennett to be the face of its campaign, titled "Simply Saving Energy with Allegra and BGE." The campaign suggests that utility customers take such common-sense measures as buying energy-efficient products and turning thermostats down in winter, because "every degree below 73 saves up to 3 percent on heating costs." By our estimates, that means you would have to turn your thermostat to 49 degrees to reduce your bill by 72 percent, the amount the average customer's bill is expected to increase after the rate caps are lifted.
BGE is also offering a guide to consumers called The Purple Book 2005-2006. It contains information on how to create a household budget, get assistance from Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland, obtain assistance paying your rent, and obtain food stamps. We have a feeling the book is going to come in handy for many Baltimoreans once those utilities go up this summer.