The Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. kicked off its effort yesterday to select 100 customers who will each receive a cordless electric lawn mower in exchange for $100 and an old gas guzzler.
The distribution of mowers is part of a nationwide effort by utility companies to promote the use of electric models and to collect old mowers for a research project by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The cordless mowers, made by the Towson-based Black & Decker Corp., are sold in stores for about $500.
They typically run about an hour before needing a recharge. The mowers can be 80 percent recharged in three hours. To fully recharge the mower requires 17 more hours using a "trickle" or maintenance charge, Black & Decker said.
BG&E started collecting entries yesterday at its booth at the Maryland State Fair in Timonium and at its 12 appliance and home electronic stores. About 400 entries from people who contacted the company directly will be included.
A drawing after Sept. 25 will determine the winners. The cordless mowers will be awarded on Oct. 3.
Besides paying $100 and turning in their old mowers, winners must meet these conditions:
* The lawn mower must use gasoline or gasoline and oil. It must be a push mower in good working condition.
* Half the cordless mowers will go to people whose lawn mowers are two to eight years old, and half will go to people with older mowers.
* The old mower must be made by a major manufacturer.
* The participant must be a BG&E ratepayer. BG&E employees are eligible.
* The participant's lawn must be about one-quarter acre or take about an hour to mow.
The company decided to require a $100 payment for the cordless mowers to narrow the applicants to serious contenders.
"If we gave them away, everybody would be coming out of the cracks," Edwin W. Skoglin III, the manager of BG&E's marketing and energy services department, said at a press conference yesterday at the Maryland State Fair.
Winners have 30 days to turn in the electric mowers and get their $100 and old mowers back. After that, the gasoline mowers will be turned over to the EPA for laboratory analysis of their emissions.
BG&E is one of 12 utilities that are distributing 1,000 Black & Decker electric mowers across the country.