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July 22, 2011

Unhappy with BGE's Peak Rewards Program?

The Sun has received scores of phone calls today from BGE customers whose homes became unbearably (or at least uncomfortably) hot today as their air conditioning compressors were cycled Heat Baltimoreon and off by the utility. Many were then even more irked by their inability to reach anyone at the utility who could field a complaint.

Nine people phoned in complaints to the Public Service Commission.

BGE responded by moving everyone on the program to the 50 percent level for the rest of the emergency.

What do you think? Is the Peak rewards Program a bust because, in extraordinary weather like this, our homes (I'm a Peak Rewards customer, too) get hot when BGE cyles the AC?

Or, are we wimps for not being able to endure a little heat in a program that we signed up for, and for which we have received payments ever since, whether it was activated or not?

(PHOTO: Ron Carr, Getty Images)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 7:58 PM | | Comments (61)
Categories: Heat waves
        

Comments

I'm a peak rewards customer too-- if you didn't want to get cycled when it was hot, you shouldn't have signed up for the program. BGE doesn't hide the fact that they will cycle you when it gets hot, it's right there. No fine print or anything.

My house is 92 degrees, the AC was off at the %100 cycling level for 7 hours and 35 minutes! It was at no time moved to the %50 level. There is NO customer service at BG&E. As soon as I find out how, I am changing to the %50 level or cancelling Peak Rewards altogether.

Yes, it is a pretty clear quid pro quo. The quid is money. The quo is having to turn a fan on cause it gets a mite warm.

I can't even imagine signing up for 100% AC reduction ... too many things can go wrong (you're off that day, the plants might die, whatever).

I did 50% and when I got home at 7 pm, it was about 85 inside. Turned the fan on and enjoyed the ad section of the Sun with a breeze.

People are just whiners. My mother lived almost her whole life without AC, and when she finally got a room unit, she'd only turn it on at night, to help her sleep. She had this elaborate system of using 2 window fans drawing air out of the house, with windows only cracked about 3 inches and all the doors in the house left open about 3 inches. It created a draft throughout the house, and we managed well.

And as the first poster said, we agreed to let them cut the AC. If it's too hot, go to a dang mall. Geez.

The latter. If we signed up, we just have to suck it up. I'm one of those people, and I'm not complaining.

I just checked the online Peak Rewards info, and NOwhere that I read does it state that there is a time limit on 'emergencies'. It gives 'typical' figures, 'average' figures, but NOwhere did I read where it speaks of the maximum time limit. BGE might discuss maximums in printed material, but BGE encourages people to go to the web site to get information they might want to see, so that would seem to make the web site info the official information.

It would appear to me that a smart attorney might be able to successfully sue BGE for false advertising, based on the language of the Peak Rewards info on line. Maybe that's why BGE made a change today?

I knew I'd get cycled today but for 8+ hours at a stretch? A bit extreme, no? I know it's hot and hi demand but why does the "event" have to be so long? Why was my unit still off and red light still on hours after they said they were cutting everyone back to 50%? my house got up to 88 with the shades drawn and lights off. I'm prepared to do my part to help, but I think they take advantage.

The problem is, originally when they were getting people to sign up for Peak Rewards years ago, they said that the temperature wouldn't go up, and you wouldn't notice a difference in your home. It wasn't till a few years ago that they changed their wording and said that you should only see a degree or two difference. However in some cases like mine, the A/C is set to crank up before I get home from work, and when I get home, the temperature is 88 degrees in the apartment, when it is never programed above 80.

Yes, it got a little warmer in our house today, but it certainly wasn't unbearable. This is the time of year when this is going to happen. Right now...things are fine.

Careful with any BG&E rewards even if you were set at a 50% cycle, their systems shut off your AC completely. also the phone systems are not equipped to handle that amount of volume

What they didn't tell you:
1. A "cycle" can last over one hour -- many in fact.
2. They baarely let one know when a cycling event takes place. I'm told there is a red light on the box outside....who knew? Oh, and, it turns out, if you had that BGE-sponsored thermostat installed, it will tell you too. First time I heard that one was when I called today.
3. It IS nice to be able to verify that one's unit is being cycled. As for BGE, itself, well, let's say it's a Cool Hand Luke situation -- "What we have here is a failure to communicate."

Hey Katie - There was no "print". It was done over the phone and I was lied to about the extent of this "great opportunity". Couple that with a sick 3 year old running a 102 degree fever and I am fit to be tied. Easy enough though, tomorrow I am finding a new provider. I will speak with my wallet.

FR: Not so easy. BGE is THE distributor of the power in these parts. The choice you have is with the electricity itself, not who delivers it. That will always be BGE unless you install solar or build your own power plant. You can, of course, quit the Peak Rewards program. The problem there is that if enough people bail, BGE may have to build a peaking generator to meet increasing summer (or winter) demand, and you'll wind up paying for that, too.

perhaps I was taken by the term "cycle" in 100% cycle. Seems to imply that it cycles....when in fact it does not. Perhaps the programs should be 50% cycle, 75% cycle, and 100% off. At least it's only the air conditioner...the beer in the fridge was still cold.

FR: Whew! That's a relief.

Peak Rewards is far from being a reward, my air went off at 11am at 50% and has yet now at 10:21opm to come back on. After spending 1 full hour on hold due to high call volume I was informed that there is a bad signal that cannot turn my unit back on. Ending with telling me that a tech can not service my home until WEDNESDAY. I canceled my peak rewards before ending my call and I am PISSED.

Thanks for bringing this sweltering event to the forefront. I'm still burning up in my home almost 11 hours after activation. 50% now? Tell that to my two labs melting on the kitchen floor! If any one of leadership at BGE is reading these comments it's probably from the luxury of their beach front condos in OC with the AC set at a cool 68 degrees! Hey BGE - I want OUT and I want it done ASAP! BGE has now joined the ranks of PepCo!estrn profits

When I signed up for Peak Rewards, I did so with the understanding that if they needed to cycle my AC unit and it didn't work with my schedule or if it got too hot inside, I could call to "opt out" for one cycle a year.

After three years in the program not ever having opted out, I wanted to use my "opt out" because we had company over. But guess what, I tried to call BG&E no less than 100 times and never got through.

I just spoke with a BG&E rep who told me they were NOT TAKING ANY CALLS today because too many people wanted to opt out! I had company today and the thermostat hit 90 degrees inside the house! I normally keep it at 80. I signed up for the least amount of cycling, which they told me might inch the temperature up a degree or two. NOT TEN DEGREES, making the house uninhabitable.

Who in BG&E decided to change the terms of this offer and not to take any calls today? That is bait and switch in my book, or highly unethical to say the least. I'm very dissatisfied and would like to understand how they can change the terms of this program on a whim to better suit them without telling anyone. VERY deceptive and i'm not a happy customer.

I can handle the heat but 90 degrees inside? I challenge anyone on this thread to sit in a house that is 90 degrees for more than 15 minutes without breaking a sweat.

i think how they went about this was completely wrong, our A/C unit was also cut off for 8 hours straight, there was no cyclying what so ever throughout any part of the day! this is completely wrong! they told my mother when she signed up that the program would only cut the A/C off for a total of 6 hours thru out the entire summer, not 8 hours all in one day, it was 92 degrees on my house n did they even bother to think about the amount of time its taking to re-cool the homes, i live in a row home n its still 84 degrees in my house n i have a child that lives with me with asthma, what they did for is wrong plain and simply because of the length of time, if my niece has to go the hospital cause of this tonight then u can bet that we will be contacting a lawyer.

Anyone who whined should be required to give back a portion of the money they've gotten from being in the program. Suck it up. You want the rewards, you take the risks.

The problem is the duration of the "event" It is wrong to expect program members to go as long as BGE chooses without indoor climate control. This is not how the program was presented. I had something similar in Florida where temps like today are not unusual. We never noticed a difference in house temps. They cycled the unit off and on during the period and the house never had time to warm up. My air is running like crazy right now trying to catch up from being off all day. I doubt there is much savings for us and it will be hours before our upstairs bedrooms will be cool enough for us to sleep in. My puppy was panting all day and my kids were extremely cranky. My husband and I were working from home and could barely think. 9+ hours is more like a punishment for trying to help out than any kind of reward. Maybe they should change the name of the program to describe what it really is.

I was fully aware that my AC could be turned off for a period if time. Since it wasn't states how long, I assumed an indefinite time. The reason I am annoyed is that Bge wants to say they had resumed usage by 5.45. My AC didn't come back on until almost 9 pm. It bothers me they are trying to cover up re actual length of time customers were cycled. Even the website for myrewards says it stopped cycling at 6.45ish. This was definitely not the case! Be honest about it at least!

My house also got to 91 degrees today, and my 100% "cycling" lasted 7 hours and 38 minutes. It honestly never occurred to me when I originally signed up that an emergency cycling event would last that long and allow my house to get that hot. I have 2 asthmatic children and cannot take the chance that this will ever happen again. I will be cancelling first thing in the morning. It's just not worth the savings.

Can this happen again tomorrow? I recall reading in Peak Rewards FAQ that it can only occur M-F. But the news just said "we'll see if they do it again tomorrow." Slightly confused. Hoping they can't do it on the weekend.

FR: BGE told me Friday they are unlikely to need it on a weekend, due to reduced consumption. But forecast consumption was still pretty high, so they made no promises.

My father signed up to this stupid program without telling me. I was on the phone with BGE for an hour and forty five minutes to cancel it and no one picked up.

My house AC is still running non stop trying to recover from being turned off all afternoon by peak rewards!!!
This can't be good for energy use off during hottest parts of day then run continuosly

I have no problem with cycling (as some other posters have said). We all need to do our part to conserve especially in extreme weather like today. However, when your cycle is over 8 hours long without any cycling to the ON position, it is too much. The AC has been running non-stop since 8 p.m. to "catch up." It was 92 in the house. I keep my thermostat on 80. Maybe the grocery stores can cut some of their AC to help conserve. I repeat over 8 hours is too long of a cycle. BGE should be ashamed of themselves.
Those of you who are saying that there is too much whining about "a little heat" don't know people's circumstances. I am sure NO ONE would sign up for PeakRewards if they thought it meant that you would be without AC for over 8 hours in 108 degree heat. No amount of savings is worth this.

If you signed up for peak rewards, why are you surprised that on the hottest day ever on record your air conditioner got turned off. That is what the peak rewards program says it will do. During heavy usage time, you choose to have your AC turned off, and in return they give you a credit on your bill. anyone who doesn't understand what they signed up for is plain stupid, and anyone who is mad a BGE is a typical selfish lazy american, who thinks that they should be able to get a discount without having to make a sacrfice. keep my AC set at 83 degrees all the time, and when mine got cut today on 100% cycle, i was happy for those $50 credits that i have gotten on my last electric bills. Stop feeling so entitled, and own up the the agreement that you made.

AT 1145 7/22/11 BGE DECIDED TO TURN OFF MY A/C AT 100%. BY 2PM I WAS CALLING THE EMERGENCY LINE BECAUSE NO ONE WOULD ANSWER THE PHONE. WHEN I GOT A HOLD OF SOMEONE I INFORMED THE WOMAN THAT I WANTED TO STOP THE PROGRAM. THE WOMAN TOLD ME THAT I WAS UNABLE TO QUIT UNTIL NEXT WEEK, TOO BAD, THAT'S WHAT I SIGNED UP FOR. THEY WILL TURN A/C BACK ON AT 7PM, GO SOMEWHERE ELSE TO COOL OFF. I EXPLAINED THAT I AM A NURSE AND WORK 12 HOUR NIGHT SHIFTS AND HAD TO SLEEP BEFORE GOING BACK ON DUTY. I EXPLAINED THAT I WAS TOLD THAT I WOULD NEVER BE CYCLED AT 100% WHEN I SIGNED UP, I COULD QUIT AT ANY TIME, YOU HAVE 2 OPT OUT DAYS PER SEASON. WELL LET ME TELL YOU--I CALLED AT LEAST 6 TIMES OVER AT PERIOD OF 2HRS AND FINALLY A MAN HAD ME TURNED BACK ON. THE HOUSE TEMP WAS MID 90'S WITH 4 WINDOW AC UNITS RUNNING. BGE JUST HURT THEMSELVES BECAUSE I WILL NEVER ALLOW THEM TO LIE TO ME AGAIN. I REQUESTED SUPERVISORS WHILE ON THE PHONE BUT THEY PLACED ME ON HOLD AND I HUNG UP AFTER 15 TO 20 MIN. YOUR CUSTOMER SERVICE STINKS.

Yea, yeah, yeah, I know I signed up for the 100% cycle. I should just bite the bullet and put up with it. Turn on a fan. Well that would be great, but when you have air conditioning you don't need fans. We don't have a fan and the air that was circulating was hot air. The temp in our house got higher than 89 degrees for nearly 8 hours. Not being used to the heat, it actually made me ill. Yesterday was not just a little discomfort, it was downright dangerous!
Customers who signed up for 100% cycling have been mislead by BGE. I am happy to do my part in electricity conservation but not to the point that I have to go to an emergency room.
They finally answered the phone at peak ewards last night after the event was over and I have opted out now, probably along with a lot of other people. Peak Rewards has lost me as a customer because they went too far. I am not going to allow them to make me miserable again!

We signed up for the program as a way to do our part, figuring we could deal with a few degrees of discomfort when the cycling would occur. However, after several hours of no A/C, the temp inside the house was 89 degrees, even with shade drawn and lights off (at one point in the early evening, it was actually cooler outside than inside). We started paying attention to the so called "cycling", and discovered that each half hour, we got cycled on for 3 minutes, then off for 27. So, we were off for 54 minutes of every hour, and when we were on, it was for so short a period of time as to be useless. Tried to call, but only got busy signals. We're outta this program as soon as we can do it.

We were at 100% reduction for 8 hrs. The temp was 88 and that is totally unacceptable for a home with a person who has heart problems. When installing we specifically asked how long service would be cut off and how hot the house might get. We were told we would see no more than a 4-5 degree difference. It took all night for the a/c to get all the humidity and heat out of the house.

We were never reduced to 50% ! it was very frustrating that I could never reach anyone on the phone lines I tried -- either constant busy or on hold for 50 minutes (and then i hung up.) I agree with this in principle, but I'm annoyed b/c I'm feeling the heat just so all those that waste energy by making their businesses and houses so cold can do so!

This is not about whining at all. When we signed up obviously we understood BGE would cycle our A/C off and on to save energy. We couild not imagine they would shut it down for 8 hours! And during that time there was no way to get even an estimate of how long it would stay off. If BGE wants people to voluntarily sign up for this program they need to actually cycle the A/C and significantly improve their communication to program participants (e.g. provide updates on the web site about duration), or ths program will fail.

When I joined Peak Rewards, I was aware that we were buying a “Savings program" and accepted the terms. No Problem.
However, the sales pitch at the time was:

1) Your AC would CYCLE and at MOST you would lose a few degrees of cooling.
2) Cycling would end in the evening, before you got home.
3) Cycling would ONLY take place on week days.
4) You could "opt out" one or two times a season, if you wanted to.

This morning, I revisited their web site and noticed that the word "Typically" has now been inserted into the text:
1) Cycling will "typically" last...
2) Cycling will "typically" be on the weekdays.. etc.

I don't mind paying for the pain, but 85 degrees until 8:30 PM was not how this program was sold to me.
I also have issue with BGE changing the terms of the original agreement without informing anyone..

I have no problem doing my part to help out during very hot times like this, that's why they give you the credits on your summer bills. However I signed up for the 75% cycle rate, and at no times expected my outside compressor to be off continuously for 6 hours plus. It appears that they just moved everyone to the 100% rate during this hot period, but not what I expected or signed up for.

Some of you make assumptions that are not warranted. BGE reps told me specifically that cycling would occur in 20 minute blocks. We would lose compressor service for 20 min at a time, then it would be back on for 20 min, etc. The temp would not vary more than 3-4 degrees and that we would have 2 opt out sessions per year. We signed up because it seemed the right thing to do for the environment and the community and would not discomfort our family unreasonably. We keep it set at 78 anyway with ceiling fans. Reality yesterday with NO compressor for hours is that my 92 yo Mom and disabled son are quite miserable even with fans and ordering pizza. The poor kids at the pizza place! Barbara

We are peak rewards customers. We were told that the cycling would last for 15 minutes out of the hour. Yesterday, our compressors were TURNED OFF at 1 pm and STAYED OFF until 8 pm. Being enraged about that is not being "wimpy". The compressors never cycled. They stayed off. The house was at 91 degrees. That's unacceptable. You know what? When it finally goes back on, you end up using more juice than you would normally. And, your appliances work harder during the "event"
BGE is a group of carnies playing the shell game. When I lived in DC, Pepco offered the program, as well. At least, the unit cycled on and off. Oh, we will opt out!

I don't have a problem with being cycled off - it hit 89 inside, but it was bearable. My problem is that now my system won't come back on. All breakers are fine, and the control box has a green light on, but it appears that a problem was triggered by the event. It's only a 2 year old system and was working fine up until yesterday. Anyone else having a problem?

I didn't sign up for Reward because I don't have air conditioning. Lived most of my live without it and I'm still hear 69 years later. People lived without A/C for thousands of years, so what's the problem with 88-90 degrees in the house?

I did not sign up for Peak Rewards; I was forced into it by my apartment complex. It saves us a whopping $12.50 a month. If they don't let me break this unwanted, unsolicited contract, I'm calling my delegates and senator.

At 50% cycling for just under 7 hours, our temps were +10 degrees higher.

The very reason I didn't sign up for this is that our A/C can't keep our upstairs below 85 even when it's running all day.

FR REPLIES: I suspect many people who suffered during the outage are in similar situations, with HVAC and insulation inadequate for such extreme (but thankfully unusual) weather. Our house (with a new AC system) warmed to 81 degrees during the cutoff (from 75), and was cool again by the time we got home. My daughter's, however, became very warm, and took quite a while to recover.

I am not sure it would have worked yesterday given the collapse of BGE's infrastructure but you can manage your Peak Rewards online and activate an opt-out if you want. Just login to your BGE account and go to peak rewards and then opt-out. I was apparently 50% cycled for almost 8 hours yesterday and didn't notice.

BGE turned off my AC completely from 11am to 8pm yesterday, a total of 9 hours, even if I just signed up for 50%. The temperature in the house rose to 92 degrees. Even worse, after they released the cycling, my AC did not come back. They asked me to call the contractor who is handling this, but the contractors' phone line has been busy for 2 hours this morning... Don't sign up this Peakreward program!

First, a shout out to the Baltimore County Public Library in Cockeysville. The place was packed on Friday and it was so COLD and comfy all day and the employees were so nice. People were bringing in bottles of water to drink while they read and no one say a thing.

Back to the BGE Rewards Program. I, fortunately, left home on Friday, heading to the library around 10:30am and missed the shut down by BGE. I am in the 100% plan. Only while at the library and reading the BaltimoreSun.com on my laptop, did I discovered that BGE decided to cycle me completely off at my apartment. The turned me off at 11:30am, so the BGE said, and turned me back on around 6:45pm. The temperature in my apartment was 93 degrees when I got home around 5:30pm! Plus, the BGE device they installed would NOT let me turn on the A/C fan when I got home. Why not? After 30 minutes of sweating I left to go find another location that at had A/C and didn't return home until around 8pm.

Ok, Here is my point: if a person is going to sign up for this program, which I support, why not compromise on both sides of the equation? The customer gives a little and BGE gives a little. A customer who signs up for the Total Rewards Program is promised that they will not be cycled off for more than 3 hours at a time, with at least a 1 hour break in between total cycle shut-offs. The money credits are fine, and appreciated, but not at the expense of having you A/C turned off for 6-10 hours on the hottest day on record! And, how about a little warning? Why not have BGE announce a "possible total shut-off" 24 hours in advance. Give people, like the nurse above, a little warning so they can make alternative plans?

The plan is a great idea, and will work, if a little common sense is used.

BGE: I made it a point at sign-up how much we would be cycled. Answer: A few minutes on the hour. O.K. good, signed up. Yesterday July 22, 20ll, a straight 8 hour shut off. 1:00 p.m. til 7:50 p.m. What did I save when it took the air conditioner a straight 7 hours to recool the house. I never got the 50% cut-back. Tried contacting BGE all afternoon and finally June 23, 2011 after a hour and half got through to a live person to opt out of program. I might as well have been outside. I am not a whimp as some other persons have suggested because I enjoy warm weather but believe me this was a little much. I like being back in control.Never again Ray

Hey Rewards,
PICK UP YOUR PHONES AND GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT!

TIRED OF SEEING PEOPLE SUFFER IN THIS WEATHER, OLD,YOUNG, SICK, ETC.......

YOU SUCK

"BGE responded by moving everyone on the program to the 50 percent level for the rest of the emergency. "

Please!

50% cycle = completely off for almost 9 hours straight here! That is not how they represent the program when they sell it.

I think people will be flocking out of this program in droves.

At 7:54PM it was 91 degrees in the house, and I had been 100% cycled since 1PM. The normal temperature is set at 80 degrees, with 78 scheduled between 7PM-10PM. The way the Peak Rewards Program was sold, you would hardly notice the cycling because the temperature would only rise a degree or 2. I used the BGE web interface to opt out because 91 degrees is just ridiculous and well beyond the few degree range touted by program officials. Incidentally, the AC ran all night, and by this morning at 6AM, it was 82 degrees - the temperature still had not recovered from the previous cycling the day before.

BGE's performance sets a very bad precedent for the program - people will leave unless the cycling system is redesigned to reflect its marketing.

If you have a heart condition or other medical issue, there is NO reason for you to sign up with this program! It is stupid for you to even consider joining a program that would cut out your air conditioning on the hottest days of the year. What are you thinking? DO YOUR HOMEWORK!!!! There is so much information about this program on the web. The people complaining have only themselves to blame.

My wife and I are members, and she is pregnant. What did we do? Date Night!

-Close the blinds and turn stuff off
-Go to the pool
-Go out dinner
-Then go to a movie

After doing those things, you will be nice and cool, and you will come home to a cool house.

This is a great program that can widespread outages on hot days like yesterday, and best of all, it is voluntary! It reduced the load on the grid by about half a Gigawatt, that's about the generating capacity of an entire power plant! Had the program been activated, we would have had service interruptions and many other people that did not sign up would have lost their AC.

STOP WHINING AND GO GET AN ICE CREAM CONE!!!!

I just want to voice my opinion on this peak-rewards my ac went out at 11.oo am did not go back until 8.oopm what kind of cycling is this suppose to be.It took me for ever to get hold of a repersentive they were vey rude telling us to go some were else to cool off.Well needless to say i cancell the program and told them blantley what they could do with there program.I feel every customer on this program should get some kind of compensation for what we had to go through,(bge) you are a miserble excuse for a company that is suppose to be for there community.

False impressions....I came around noon to find my house temperature rising steadily. Two hours went by and the unit never came on. Got through to BGE and was given the answer we are cycling today. Ok??? Waited a bit longer and started to think my compressor shut down. Called in my contractor. He tested the unit and said my cycle box was still showing red to call back BGE. Called back. Got a very rude man that said I was on the 100% plan, but had no more information to offer. Now my home was at 92 degrees. And my unit had not cycled at all in 3 hours. I call back again...finally I get a better educated service person who explained the situation. I was informed because we chose the 100% plan we were not being cycled at all, and our system was shut off at 11am would not be turned back on til after 7PM. Efficient or just stupid?? No one knew what was happening and that was just bad. Our air finally turned back on after 8:00PM. Did they really mean to punish those who chose to be green?

If your house gets that warm that fast, think what you are paying every day to cool it. At 50% our house rose from 78 to 81 by the end of the day. We have planted a number of trees purposely to shade the house, especially from afternoon sun, and it has paid off.

Well FRANK,

Do all these comments answer your question regarding righteous anger or being a "wimp."

1.) BGE fubared this event.
2.) BGE broke it's agreement by removing the option to request an OPT-OUT.
3.) BGE cust. service did nothing but add insult to a building injury.
4.) BGE sales team made fraudulent statements to increase enrollment.
5.) BGE was given an inch of control, and took a MILE.
6.) That money people keep mentioning we should give back for accepting then cancelling, is for giving BGE a slight amount of control. NOT 8 straight hours with a heat index in Middle River of 128 degrees!
7.) I WAS at 50% cycling, yet the $12.50 credited to my bill in June, July, Aug & Sept is not worth my bedroom being 91 degrees at 11:30 p.m.

Why don't you ask people what their thermostats are usually set at while they are away from home and while they are at home.

From what I've read, a lot of people are already keeping their temp around the 78-82 range (unlike public buildings which average 72.) So, being told the increase would only be a couple of degrees is acceptable. But when that "couple degrees" becomes TEN DEGREES it is a problem and false advertising.

Keep in mind that some areas of the state do not cool down during these heat waves. See below from the NWS for the KMTN site. Note the heat index at 9:00 at NIGHT.

Baltimore / Martin
Lat: 39.34 Lon: -76.42 Elev: 23
Last Update on Jul 23, 8:45 pm EDT

Mostly Cloudy

93 °F
(34 °C)
Humidity: 59 %
Wind Speed: S 3 MPH
Barometer: 29.91"
Dewpoint: 77 °F (25 °C)
Heat Index: 107 °F (42 °C)
Visibility: 10.00 mi.

We should not forget that the Maryland Legislature, not BGE, passed the EMPOWER Maryland Act of 2008 that requires utilities to reduce peak electricity usage. It includes specific mention of "demand response" programs, like PeakRewards, which were approved by the PSC. Well, of course peak electricity usage is going to be during a heat wave, so it's intended to cut A/C exactly when it's hot. There's no free lunch, why else would they pay people?
The real problem is the incentives (including pressure from the government) to sign up customers to meet the program goals, without regard to whether the customer was a good candidate and understood the program (sounds like mortgages again). Clearly the program was not a good fit for the people who are calling in complaints. On the plus side, with the news coverage, those signing up in the future will better understand what they're getting into for the money. Remember, WE all pay a surcharge to fund all the EMPOWER programs, including those new thermostats and switches, AND payments to the participants in PeakRewards.

The smug comments saying we got what we bargained for really irritate me. When I agreed to this program over the phone, I was told that my ac could be cycled off for about 20 minutes at a time and that I would probably never notice the difference. My understanding of "cycle" doesn't mean it's just plain turned off for 8 hours or more. In one respect they were correct, because my ac was off for 4 hours before I started feeling uncomfortable, so it's not a matter of not having my house properly insulated. The way the program was implemented doesn't even come close to the way it was presented in the sales pitch.

What BGE did not explain is that 50%, 75%, 100% doesn't matter on an emergency event. All customers enrolled are shut down the same amount of time.

We are set at 75% cycling but according to bge.com we were cycled for 7 hours 45 minutes last Friday. We are very likely to opt out of this Peak Rewards Program.

My air won't stay on, at times won't go on, since the "event", first they sent, Sunday morning , a guy to change the thermostat..everything worked fine for 6 hours then it would not signal on the compressor, another service person came out ( asked me who I knew to get this attention) by ten in the evening his report was that I had a defective switch and a bad capacitor and that it wouldn' t be going on . Old unit, well yep..never should have been involved in an 8 hour shut down requiring a 9 hour catch up. ANYWAY...this guy..left..said he would call this morning..yet less than an hour later at 11 a signal went on, everything ran fine and it's 74 degrees in my house. Lower than I normally would set it, but I'm afraid to touch it. Bottom line, they have NO IDEA the damage they have done, nor a clue if their signals are caught in some kind of loop.

I called BG&E this morning to opt out of the program. They told me to call Peakrewards number. I did that, was on hold for 30 min and finally someone answers and says all he can do is take my name and number and someone will call me in 24 hours. After a few more questions he said "well this is a BGE program so I should talk to them. I just talked to them and they said talk to peakrewards!! Nobody wants to talk but I want to talk!!!!

There is much more to this “cycling event” than meets the eyes. Since I knew when signing up for 100 percent cycling my air conditioner compressor would be turned entirely off during emergency events and since I set my thermostat to 85 degrees when I'm at work I wasn't tremendously surprised to find that my third floor apartment was registering 92 degrees when I arrived home Friday evening.

I did, however, expect to have the fan unit continue to run as it had in previous regional events and as outlined in the program policies. No such luck.

Five hours and thirty seven minutes into the event BGE made a decision to end the “emergency event” and went directly into cycling at regional levels for one hour and fifteen minutes. At that time I expected to have my air conditioner compressor and fan begin operation at the 50 percent level outlined in the Peak Rewards plan and have my service returned back to normal within thirty minutes of the conclusion of the event. Once again no such luck.

Instead I was forced to sit in my third floor apartment for an additional three hours of regional cycling just waiting for the event to end so I could determine if there was a problem with my air conditioning fan so a call could be made for emergency maintenance or if BGE had shut my fan and compressor off entirely in error.

During this time the temperature in my apartment continued to rise and stayed at 95 degrees for the last three and a half hours of the cycling. Also not coming as a shock was the fact that as soon as the regional event ended my thermostat clicked, the word savings disappeared, and my air conditioner compressor and fan both began to mysteriously function again.

Most importantly, I never expected to spend three hours Friday and the majority of Monday on the phone arguing with BGE staff over the following facts:

1) that something went wrong with the system and that they did indeed trigger my air conditioner fan to stop when the events began

2) that they never triggered my air conditioner fan or compressor to move from 100 percent cycling to 50 percent cycling when the emergency event was over.

3) that it is totally unreasonable to force me and other customers to use our two annual opt outs to avoid having our air conditioner compressor and fan units being shut off entirely due to defective materials if we are cycled again prior to BGE completing repairs to correct the “switch” problem that they finally admitted affected hundreds of customers on Friday.

Utterly ridiculous!!!

I have cancelled my PeaksReward program. I signed up for the 50% cycling option, however, on the hottest day of the year there was no cycling taking place in my condo. I was totally without air conditioning from morning until night. I truly believed my AC unit had broken, because I knew I was in the 50% plan, and I should have been getting some kind of air conditioning. I was told by the person who helped me get into the plan that I would never be without air conditioning on the 50% plan. My condo got up to 90 degrees and stayed that way until around 8:00pm. I am very dissapointed in the PeaksReward program. I have been in BGE's energy saving programs for over 20 years, and never once had a problem. When I agreed to change my old switch to the new PeaksReward switch, and have now experienced the misinformation I was given about the program, the fear that my air conditioner had broken, not being about to reach anyone at BG&E to find out what was going on, and having to endure so many hours of 90 degree temperature, the savings is not worth the stress. I am a senior citizen who has tried to do the right thing to help the environment, but enough is enough. I was willing to do my part, however, BGE totally misrepresented themselves with their offer to cycle at 50% and 75%. I am not a whiner. I signed up for the 50% cycling option, with the understanding that I "would not" get as much credit as someone with the 100% cycling, however, I got the 100% cycling anyway. BG&E broke their promise to me. Shame on them.

I'm reading through these comments late relative to the event July 22. We have 100% cycling and were not home during the day, but when we arrived home at 7pm the temp in our house was 92 degrees and we were cycled off. This isn't normally a problem, but we had company arriving that evening.

We usually set our thermostat to 85 when we're not in the house, and didn't mind the high temperature.

What I minded was the change in the website, making it more difficult to see when cycling starts and stops. I guess BG&E figured out it's not to their advantage to put this in writing. If anyone from BG&E reads this, I think it's pretty low to take information away that helps us to make an informed decision about our participation in this program.

What surprised me was one day last week, when we received a phone message from BG&E warning that we might be cycled the next day given the anticipated temperatures. I didn't understand why there was this change, but based on all these complaints I can see that they are trying to be more responsive, and this is a good thing.

We were never cycled off the next day, but the warning did change our behavior. We set our thermostat much lower, so that we would hopefully avoid 92 degree temps. I don't mind the heat, but it took 8 hours for our house to cool back down after that last cycling event. I sure was glad we're getting a credit, because we probably burned a lot of kw hours getting back to a decent temp.

All in all, I'm still happy to participate in the program, but have started setting the thermostat lower and installed a window AC unit in case we have this problem again. Needless to say, our kilowatt usage is much higher this month as a result. I wonder if the kind of event that we experienced isn't rather counter-productive, but I guess that's up to BG&E to figure out.

It wasn't my understanding that we'd be cycled off for so long when I signed up. If we continue to have cycling events that make my home 92 degrees, then we'll switch to 50% cycling or opt out.

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About Frank Roylance
This site is the Maryland Weather archive. The current Maryland Weather blog can be found here.
Frank Roylance is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. He came to Baltimore from New Bedford, Mass. in 1980 to join the old Evening Sun. He moved to the morning Sun when the papers merged in 1992, and has spent most of his time since covering science, including astronomy and the weather. One of The Baltimore Sun's first online Web logs, the Weather Blog debuted in October 2004. In June 2006 Frank also began writing comments on local weather and stargazing for The Baltimore Sun's print Weather Page. Frank also answers readers’ weather queries for the newspaper and the blog. Frank Roylance retired in October 2011. Maryland Weather is now being updated by members of The Baltimore Sun staff
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