The Truth About EmPower Maryland

November 13, 2015

I’d like to give you a little background about the EmPower Maryland Program.

From talking with our customers, I’ve come to the conclusion that many of you are not sure what EmPower Maryland really is. Many of you think that the rebates are funded by the utilities-so far from the truth. The entire EmPower Program is funded by you, the ratepayers-every single penny. There is an electric and or a gas surcharge on every one of your utility bills.

The program itself was enabled by legislation passed in 2008 which mandated a certain reduction in energy consumption statewide. This was really an excellent concept, and in fact has benefitted all of us. More about this in a later post. However there was one major flaw in this legislation, which in spite of having good results in saving energy, has prevented full optimization of the program. Our legislators, influenced by the utilities, allowed the utilities to be in charge of program development and administration. Maryland is the only state in the Nation with an energy program run by utilities.

Does it make any sense to you that BGE, Pepco, Delmarva and the other Maryland utilities are in charge of developing programs to help you save energy and save on your utility bill? It’s like asking my cat to guard my birdhouse.

You’ve all heard advertising for BGE Smart Energy Programs, but in reality it’s your EmPower Maryland Program. This advertising is paid for with your money, but in fact it does more to promote the name of the utility than really explaining what EmPower Maryland is all about. As a business owner in competition with BGE Home, I cringe every time I hear them advertise Smart Service. Smart Energy-Smart Service— Sound the same? Are you confused? I wish I had some of our ratepayer money to promote the A J Michaels name. BGE Home happens to be owned by our friends in Chicago-Exelon. Yet our legislators and the PSC have allowed them to use the name and logo of a regulated utility without any remuneration in the form of a royalty or any payment to benefit the ratepayers. BGE Home has also used BGE’s computers and billing services for 23 cents per bill. Less than the cost of a postage stamp. So the ratepayers are also subsidizing BGE Home’s billing. By the way, at a legislative hearing 2 years ago, BGE admitted that they process over 900,000 bills a year for BGE Home. This seems to be ok too. I call this subsidization, which is illegal—and it is grossly unfair to the hundreds of small business contractors–my friends and associates–who have been serving the community ever since Willis Carrier invented air conditioning.

OK, I know I have digressed-from EmPower to subsidization issues, but hey–I’m human and it’s my time to vent a little.

I’ll get back to EmPower Maryland Programs in my next post. And you’ll hear a lot more about subsidization issues, the PSC, and the legislature.  The name of the restaurant in Annapolis I mentioned in an earlier post is Osteria 177.