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West Baltimore residents join class action lawsuit against BGE

West Baltimore residents join class action lawsuit against BGE
West Baltimore residents join class action lawsuit against BGE 02:15

BALTIMORE -- Several West Baltimore residents are joining a lawsuit against Baltimore Gas & Electric over its campaign to install external high-pressure gas regulators at homes in the city.

Thiru Vignarajah, an attorney for the plaintiffs, announced the update at a press conference on Wednesday morning.  

The lawsuit was filed on June 23. It alleges that BGE has continued a campaign to install potentially unsafe and unwanted high-pressure gas regulators at residences in Federal Hill and shut off gas services for residents that refused the work, according to Vignarajah.

"It was a deliberate, protracted, unapologetic campaign that they have perpetrated over the course of months or years to install external regulators for their own profit to avoid their own liability," Vignarajah said.  "At the expense and over the objection of homeowners."  

The West Baltimore residents reached out for assistance after the lawsuit was filed, Vignarajah said.   

Adrienne Smith, who owns a home on North Smallwood Street, said BGE cut off her power for two months in October after she contested the installation of the external gas regulators.  

"We had many arguments," Smith said. "We fought with the public service commission. They blew us off."

Faced with no hot water, no ovens and no heat, residents finally gave in.

"What they were told in writing, over the phone, in person is you have no choice," Smith said. "'If you want gas service, you'd better get this regulator or we're gonna shut you down.'" 

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Vignarajah said that BGE's campaign was "a real threat by a corporate giant run out of Chicago that was willing to do whatever it needed to do to avoid liability, reduce costs and get the job done at the customer's expense." 

Last Monday, three Federal Hill residents were arrested after protesting the work outside their homes as BGE crews attempted to install the regulators. 

Days later, a judge ruled that BGE must turn gas service back on for those without it and issued a 10-day restraining order keeping BGE from installing gas regulators.    

"Residents of this West Baltimore neighborhood deserve the same attention that other communities have received," Vignarajah said. "They saw the same bulldozers; they fought the same fight; and, like many other neighborhoods, they lost. They hope that by coming together, this fight will end differently." 

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