Frequently Asked Questions
What is electric customer choice?
As a Maryland electricity customer, you may purchase electricity from a retail electricity supplier or from your regulated electric utility. Retail electricity suppliers are licensed by the Maryland Public Service Commission (Commission or PSC), and customarily will market electricity to you through the mail, over the phone, over the Internet, or in person.
What is a retail electricity supplier?
Your retail electricity supplier is the company that provides your electric supply service. In Maryland, you have the ability to choose your electricity supplier. To do business in Maryland, retail electricity suppliers must be licensed by the PSC and complete the utility’s registration process.
Do I have to choose a retail electricity supplier?
No. You may choose to remain with your utility for supply service.
What will remain the same if I choose a retail electricity supplier?
Your utility continues to deliver electricity to your home. Your utility still responds to service interruptions and continues to maintain the poles and wires that distribute electricity. You will continue to receive the same service you are used to with your utility, regardless of which retail electricity supplier you choose to provide your service.
Can I save money by choosing a retail electricity supplier?
You may be able to save money, but not always. You may be able to purchase renewable energy, however, or receive other value-added products and services from a retail electricity supplier. You may be able to choose how long you want to lock in your price (from one month up to several years), select from different billing and payment options, and/or select other contract terms.
You can compare offers from retail electricity suppliers in your area with the utility supply price, known as Standard Offer Service or SOS.
Why should I shop for electricity?
Just as you shop for any household item or service, you may shop for your electricity to find the best deal and service to meet your needs. Competitive offers may not be available in all areas.
Where can I find a list of retail electricity suppliers?
All retail electricity suppliers are licensed by the Maryland PSC. The PSC provides a list of retail electricity supplier offers available in your area.
How long will it take to switch to a new retail electricity supplier?
The effective date of your choice depends on your next meter read date and can take two to six weeks. It may take 1 to 2 billing cycles to receive your first bill from your new retail electric supplier.
Will I receive two electric bills if I choose a new retail electricity supplier?
Depending on the retail electricity supplier you choose, you may be able to receive a single monthly bill from your utility that details the retail electricity supplier’s charges separately. Some retail electricity suppliers have the ability to bill you separately. In this case, you would receive two bills, one from your utility and one from the retail electricity supplier. Before contracting, you should ask the retail electricity supplier for the available billing options.
Are there any charges or fees for choosing alternative retail electricity supplier or canceling a contract?
There are no charges or fees to switch from a utility to a retail electricity supplier. When choosing a retail electricity supplier, you will be required to enter into a contract (in writing, over the phone, or over the Internet). Understand the terms, conditions, length of contract, and any early termination fees that may be imposed by the retail electricity supplier before agreeing to the contract. Fixed-term contracts that do not include early cancellation fees may allow supplier to cancel early.
Will I still be able to take advantage of “budget billing”?
Yes. Residential customers can continue to receive budget billing from their utility, for the distribution portion of their service, and customers may contact their utility and request budget billing at any time. Retail electricity suppliers are not required to offer budget billing, but many do. Contact your retail electricity supplier to inquire about its ability to offer budget billing. If you are already on budget billing with your utility, your utility account may be reviewed and reconciled (trued-up) before starting service with your new retail electricity supplier.
Budget billing allows you to pay a fixed amount each month. Budget billing averages bills out over 12 months, so each monthly bill will be the same amount until the total bill is paid. The company may adjust the bill throughout the year, up or down, depending on your power usage.
My utility has always been a good company. Why should I switch now?
Maryland law allows you to decide whether to purchase electricity supply from your utility or a licensed retail electricity supplier. You may be able to save money or find a product to better suit your needs by switching to a retail electricity supplier. If you switch to a retail electricity supplier, your utility will continue to deliver your electricity, and respond to outage problems. The quality, reliability, and maintenance of your electric service will not change and will continue to be monitored and regulated by the PSC.
I just found out about a new retail electricity supplier with a better deal than the one I have now. How do I take advantage of it?
When you choose a retail electricity supplier, you commit to a contract (either in writing, by phone, or online). Before canceling your existing retail electricity supplier contract, review your agreement with your current retail electricity supplier to see if there are any penalties for early cancellation. If you are not sure, call your current retail electricity supplier to find out when your contract ends, and whether any early termination fees apply if you cancel before the contract expires. Be sure to ask your new retail electricity supplier if they have any fees or penalties for cancelling or switching service, before signing a contract.
A retail electricity supplier has contacted me. Is this appropriate?
You may be contacted by retail electricity suppliers through a variety of ways, including by telephone, mailers, or door-to-door solicitations. It is up to you whether to continue the conversation. If you wish to explore a business relationship with a retail electricity supplier, first make sure the retail electricity supplier is licensed by the PSC. Ask for the retail electricity supplier’s license number, and confirm it on the PSC’s Supplier Search. Do not provide your utility account number until you have decided to shop for electricity service with a given retail electricity supplier and have entered into a contract.
If you receive a telephone call from a retail electricity supplier and your name is on the Do-Not-Call Registry, this contact is not appropriate. Report the retail electricity supplier to the FCC and the Office of the Attorney General. A door-to-door salesperson also may need a peddler’s license from your town or county government.
Who should I call about outages and repairs?
You will still call your utility about power outages and repairs.
Who do I contact if I have billing questions?
If you have a question about the electricity supply charges, contact your retail electricity supplier. The retail electric supplier and utility contact information can be found on your bill and in your electricity supply contract.
If I have a problem with a retail electricity supplier or my utility, where can I go for help?
If you are unable to resolve your concerns with the retail electricity supplier or utility directly, you may bring your concerns to the Maryland PSC’s Office of External Relations (OER). You can contact OER by calling 410-767-8028.
If I choose a new retail electricity supplier, can I still receive help in paying my electric bill or still use MEAP (Maryland Energy Assistance Program)?
Yes, call your local Office of Home Energy Programs or call the Maryland OHEP office at 1-800-352-1446. If your income is limited, energy assistance programs are available to help you pay part of your bill or lower the amount of electricity you use. Selecting a retail electricity supplier does not affect your eligibility for assistance programs.
If I have an unpaid balance on my electric account, can I still switch?
Yes, but first you will need to call your utility and make an arrangement to pay for any outstanding balance in your account. Once you’ve done this, you can shop for a retail electricity supplier.