What Is a Retail Supplier?
You can choose to purchase your electricity or natural gas supply from your local utility or a retail energy supplier. Consumers do not have a choice for the local utility that provides their energy distribution service with wires or pipelines. But consumers can choose who supplies the electricity or natural gas that runs through those wires or pipelines. That choice of an energy supplier can be the same local utility that provides the wires or pipelines (for example, by choosing the utility’s “Standard Offer Service” price) or a consumer can choose a retail energy supplier.
If you buy your electricity or natural gas supply from a licensed retail supplier, you would pay the retail supplier for the cost of the energy you use and would continue to separately pay your local utility for using its pipelines or wires to deliver the energy. Many times you will still receive a bill from your local utility, and your chosen retail supplier will include their charges on that bill. It is possible (but uncommon) for a retail supplier to send you a separate bill for the supplier’s charges.
Your local utility’s prices are set using a process authorized and monitored by the Public Service Commission (PSC). Retail suppliers set their own price terms, and price terms will vary across suppliers. Consumers always have the option to stay with their local utility for energy. Their local utility can supply energy at rates for the “Standard Offer” price. The “Standard Offer” price is set through competitive auctions, which produces economical prices for consumers. Consumers should not assume that prices offered by a retail supplier will be lower than the price of the utility’s “Standard Offer,” especially over time. Retail supplier prices are not regulated.
Other than price, other aspects of a retail supplier’s business activities are regulated. Retail suppliers are entities engaging in regulated commercial activity and must be licensed through the PSC. Check www.mdgaschoice.com and www.mdelectricchoice.com to see the list of active suppliers in your service area. Verify that a supplier is on the list before you agree to a Contract. Make sure the license # is on your Contract.