Consumer Corner – Retail Suppliers (of Electricity and Natural Gas)

Electricity Retail Price Comparison by Service Area

Natural Gas Retail Price Comparison by Service Area

Electricity and Gas Suppliers

A Message from the Office of People’s Counsel  

          OPC’s Supplier Fact Sheets [link] and Price Comparison Guides contain important consumer information about retail gas and electricity suppliers and supply contracts.  You can purchase your gas and electric supply from your local utility or from an energy supplier. It is your choice – you do not have to switch to a supplier unless the offer benefits you. You should exercise care in making a decision about energy supply contracts, since some suppliers charge more than the utility rate.

          Electricity and gas are essential services for every home. To avoid paying more for electricity or gas than you should, it is important to take control of your purchase decisions.  Take your time, and never feel pressured into a contract by a telephone marketer, a door to door sales agent, or someone sitting at a table in a mall or big box store.

          Get the facts first. If you are interested in purchasing gas or electricity from a retail supplier, or have a particular interest in renewable energy, do comparison shopping and read the contract terms.

Suppliers are licensed by the Public Service Commission, and must comply with their regulations. OPC offers Supplier Fact Sheets and Price Comparison Guides on its website at www.opc.maryland.gov.  Check them out before you agree to a supply contract.

To reduce your risk of paying higher prices for your gas or electricity supply:

  • Never give your utility account number or Choice ID number to a marketer unless you are ready to sign a contract.
  • Do not agree to a contract with variable rates, unless you are able to handle unexpected price increases for your energy supply.
  • Always review all of the contract terms before you sign it.
  • Some door to door marketers use e-tablets and scroll through the contracts, while telemarketers talk you through contract terms.  If you sign an e-tablet or a document linked to a smart phone, remember – you may be signing a binding contract. This contract may be for an extended period of time, have cancellation fees, or allow monthly changes to the supply price.  Be sure you have reviewed and understand the contract terms before you sign or say “yes” to a telemarketer.
  • Always get a copy of the signed contract and contract summary; and if it is a door to door sale (including any marketing table), a Notice of Right to Cancel the contract.
  • Never engage with a marketer who tells you they are conducting a utility survey, are contacting you for the utility or want to offer you a utility discount.

If you believe that you have been signed up to a supplier without your permission, or that the energy supplier (or its agent) has been deceptive in its marketing, or not provided you a written contract or contract summary, you should contact the supplier with your complaint. If you are not satisfied, you can file a complaint with the Public Service Commission at www.psc.state.md.us.

If you are a low income customer, you may qualify for energy assistance with your utility bills.  Check with Office of Home Energy Programs (OHEP) or call 211 to get a referral for assistance.