What You Need to Know
You are able to choose from which company you purchase your electricity supply for your home or business. There are several options to consider when making your choice. The Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) wants you to understand your choices when you are shopping for electricity supply. Whether your concern is getting the lowest price, a stable price over time, reducing your impact on the environment with green energy options, or finding other value-added services, the choice is yours.
You should always review and understand the terms and conditions of a retail electricity supplier’s contract prior to signing the agreement; it is a legally binding contract.
Contract Term: Before you sign a contract, understand the length of the commitment you are making. Contract terms range from one month to multiple years.
Month-to-Month: Electricity supply is provided for a minimum of one month and service continues on a monthly basis until you cancel the contract. You can typically cancel at any time without penalty. Month-to-month contracts are often variable-price contracts.
Fixed Term: Electricity supply is provided for a fixed period of time –months or multiple years. Fixed-term contracts are typically fixed-price contracts. These contracts frequently (but not always) have a penalty for canceling before the term ends.
Automatic Renewal: Some fixed term contracts have provisions for automatic renewal, also known as “evergreen” contracts. Retail electricity suppliers are required to send a notice to customers at least 45 days before the date of the expiration of the original contract term that explains the new price, contract term, and any other changes to the terms of service. The new price and term could be fixed, or it could be a monthly variable price with no set term. Customers should contact the retail electricity supplier if they do not want to renew their contract at the price/terms indicated in that notice.
Make sure you understand what happens at the end of the contract period with respect to the pricing of your electricity supply. Your contract must contain this information, but ask the retail electricity supplier if you are unsure.
Early Contract Termination
If you decide to cancel your contract before the end of its term, you may be subject to early cancellation fees imposed by some retail electricity suppliers. Fixed term contracts often include early cancellation fees because some retail electricity suppliers purchase the electricity supply needed to fulfill the contract with the customer at the time the customer signs the contract. Fixed-term contracts that do not include early cancellation penalties may allow the retail electricity supplier to cancel the contract early and leave the customer before the contract end date. Review and understand the terms and conditions of your existing contract for electricity supply and the terms and conditions of a new retail electricity supplier’s contract prior to signing the agreement.
Fixed, Variable, and Indexed Electricity Prices
Find out if a retail electricity supplier offers fixed, variable, or indexed electricity prices. The price offered is for electricity supply only. Your utility’s delivery charges will appear separately on your utility bill.
A fixed price will remain the same for a set period of time.
A variable price can change by the hour, day, month, etc.
An indexed price is tied to a specific pricing formula disclosed by the retail electricity supplier.
As you shop for electricity, find out how and for what reasons your electricity supply price can change, and select a plan that best fits your needs.
If you want a plan that includes renewable energy (exceeding current state requirements), check the retail electricity supplier offers to see how much of the plan’s electricity is generated from various renewable resources.