I can hardly offer a definitive account of what it will be like for Pepco customers to get their electricity from Exelon, but I can offer an impression.
Consider this a sample of one.
I have gotten my power from Baltimore Gas & Electric before and after it was acquired by Exelon, and I gotta tell you, the change barely registered.
I still pay my monthly bill to BG&E, and the current has continued to run mostly uninterrupted, save for the rare and blessedly brief blackout.
Now, I’m lucky. I live in a place where the power lines run underground, so we rarely ever have storm-related outages. And there’s little construction around to cut a power line; mine is an established, quiet suburban neighborhood.
I did receive a nice little gift in the form of a $100 credit on my bill when the deal closed in 2012, a rebate negotiated by regulators. And BG&E did ramp up a program that offers me further rebates if I allow the energy company to temporarily cycle off my air conditioner or electricity during peak periods, like the middle of a hot day.
BG&E swapped out our meters a while back for so-called smart models. Other than the fact the new equipment made it easier for the meter readers to collect data, I really cannot figure out what is so smart about the gizmos.
Exelon chief executive Christopher M. Crane stopped by The Washington Post last week to talk up the merger. He pledged a transition much the same at its acquisition of BG&E. Pepco will not change its name, it will maintain its current level of effort on charitable giving, and customers will receive benefits worth $50 (whether they get a credit on their bill is up to regulators).
Mostly, he said, Pepco customers will gain the advantage of being part of a larger company, one that can negotiate better deals on new equipment and deploy a larger maintenance force, holding down costs and improving the reliability of service.
I wish I could tell you what impact the change had on my bills, but I installed an energy-efficient furnace and air conditioner a couple years back and added new siding. My bills are a fraction of what they once were.
So I don’t think about my utilities much, and that’s probably a good thing, all in all. Lately, though, BG&E has started giving me a nudge. Every month, I now receive a home energy report. Last week, I learned I used less energy on average than my neighbors as a whole, but 16 percent more than my “efficient neighbors.” That earned me one smiley face.
I’m shooting for two.