In Maryland, a low-income household typically spends an average of 9 percent of its annual income on electricity, whereas the average-income household in Maryland spends 2.5 percent of its annual income on electricity. In Baltimore City, where 25.2 percent of residents live below the poverty line, this “energy divide” is likely even more extreme.
In the wake of the unrest in Baltimore in April 2015, Ray Lewis, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens, and Daniel Wallace of BITH Energy, a local energy services company, joined forces to address this energy divide. They formed Power52, a nonprofit organization, to build and generate solar power that will be delivered, in partnership with BGE and at below-market rates, to low-income Baltimore residents. By becoming a wholesale electricity supplier, Power52 hopes to provide its solar electricity at an estimated 8.5 cents per kilowatt (kW), rather than at BGE’s standard rate of 13.5 cents per kW, thereby saving its low-income customers an estimated 37 percent on their electricity bills for the solar power generated. To participate in this program, low-income ratepayers must select Power52 as their electricity supplier on their BGE bills; Power52 plans to use Ray Lewis’s name recognition to educate and recruit subscribers. The Abell Foundation is supporting Power52’s marketing and outreach efforts.