Saturday, July 18, 2009

BGE Gets Low Customer Satisfaction Rating

Baltimore Gas & Electric ranked 15th in a J.D. Power & Associates customer satisfaction survey of the 17 largest utilities in the East. I'm sure this doesn't come as a surprise to Bowie residents. I previously posted here about BGE's efforts to improve reliability in Bowie, and I guess it's appropriate to cut them a little slack until they complete that project. The situation seems to be better now than it was in the past, so BGE may be paying for past sins in the survey.

Of all the places that I've lived, I've never seen power outages with the frequency and duration as the power disruptions in Bowie. I think it was the summer of 2005 when we lost power for four days from a thunderstorm, and a couple of weeks later, we lost power for another three days when we received the remnants of what had been a hurricane and a tropical storm before it arrived in Bowie as rain and high winds.

BGE has said in the past that conditions are unique in the Levitt sections of Bowie, but the outages that I recall affected Anne Arundel County residents as well. Some people have speculated in the past that BGE gives more attention to the Baltimore area than customers to the South.

To BGE's credit, whenever we do have widespread outages, crews are brought in from other companies around the East to assist.

Even if/when the reliability issue is resolved, there is still the issue over billing. Some customer's bills have mysteriously doubled from one year to the next. BGE seems to have two general responses:

  1. You must have doubled your electricity usage.
  2. We installed a new meter on your house. Those old meters just weren't working right, and you've been undercharged all these years.

And what recourse do you have if a utility claims that your usage was higher than you think it was? Last summer we received a $600+ bill from Washington Gas for one month's worth of natural gas for our hot water heater. The bill is generally between $20 and $30. Luckily they adjusted the bill, and the description on the bill suggested a new or faulty meter. But if they hadn't adjusted the bill, I'm not sure what I could have done.

Check out this blog post and a related update to see how you can save on your electric bill in Maryland.

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