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A message from the Office of People’s Counsel on

shopping for gas and electricity

 
          OPC’s Supplier Fact Sheets 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 to switch to a supplier. You should exercise care in making a decision about energy supply contracts.  Some suppliers may charge more than the what the utility charges and the services may differ.  For example, some suppliers may offer renewable or clean energy sources of supply, and some may offer different rates for different times of the day.
 

          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.

          To begin the purchasing process, we recommend you go to the Maryland Public Service Commission official shopping websites (https://www.mdelectricchoice.com) or  (https://www.mdgaschoice.com). These sites allow the user to review offers from electric and gas suppliers. Suppliers are licensed by the Public Service Commission, and must comply with their regulations.

Shopping tips:

  • 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.  There may not be a limit on how much the rate can increase.

  • 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 may ask you to say "yes" to a series of questions.  If you sign an e-tablet or a document linked to a smart phone or agree over the phone, remember – you may be signing a binding contract.

  • Contracts may be for an extended period of time, be priced above the utility rate, 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 marketer.

  • 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 you have been signed up to a supplier without your permission, or 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 ww.psc.state.md.us.

If your income is low enough, you may qualify for energy assistance with your utility bills.  Check with Maryland Office of Home Energy Programs (800-332-6347) or call 211 to get a referral for assistance.