Natural gas is provided to customers in Maryland by local distribution utilities. There are three major utilities providing gas supply and service in Maryland.
BGE is a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation. The utility provides gas and electricity service in central Maryland, including Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Anne Arundel County, most of Howard, Carroll and Harford Counties, and parts of Prince George’s, Montgomery and Calvert Counties.
WGL is an affiliate of WGL Holdings, Inc. The utility provides service in Montgomery County and Prince George’s County, as well as Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s Counties. In addition to Maryland, WGL is regulated in two other regions, the District of Columbia and Virginia. WGL as a multi-jurisdictional utility coordinates its gas supply and service for customers in all three jurisdictions.
Columbia Gas is an affiliate of Nisource, Inc., a large gas utility with operations extending to areas of the Midwest as well as its Maryland service territory. Columbia Gas serves customers in a service territory within the Western Maryland counties of Washington, Allegany and Garrett Counties.
There also are some smaller gas utilities which are for-profit companies or municipal utilities. These smaller utilities are regulated by the MD Public Service Commission (MD PSC) and include Chesapeake Utilities Corporation, Penn Fuel Gas, Inc., Elkton Gas Company, Easton Utilities Commission and Eastern Shore Gas Company.
Each local utility has been granted a franchise from the MD PSC to operate a distribution pipeline and provide gas supply on behalf of its customers within its service territory, PSC Service Areas. The distribution pipeline rights are exclusive to the franchised utility. The MD PSC has the responsibility to regulate the gas utilities in the public interest, and to ensure safe and reliable service at reasonable cost. The MD PSC must review and approve the distribution rates of each utility. In addition, the MD PSC conducts “prudence” reviews of gas purchasing practices of each gas utility.
Maryland law also permits natural gas suppliers to offer gas supply to retail customers, including residential customers, in addition to the regulated gas utility. The suppliers must have a license from the MD PSC and comply with the law and MD PSC regulations. Supplier prices are not subject to regulation.
Choptank Electric Cooperative serves its members in different areas of nine counties on the Eastern Shore.
There also are some smaller gas utilities in Maryland regulated by the MD PSC. These include municipal utilities operated by the Towns of Hagerstown, Berlin and Williamsport and the Easton Utilities Commission.
Each local gas utility has been authorized to exercise a franchise by the MD PSC to operate a regulated gas company in a specific geographic area. Each company owns and operates the distribution infrastructure (the pipes), and provide natural gas supply on behalf of its customers within its service territory. The distribution company rights are exclusive to the franchised utility. Rates and fees charged by the natural gas utilities are reviewed and considered for reasonableness by the MD PSC in rate cases and other administrative proceedings.
Maryland law permits "natural gas suppliers" to offer natural gas supply to retail customers, including residential customers, in addition to the regulated natural gas utility. The suppliers must have a license from the MD PSC and comply with the law and MD PSC regulations. Supplier prices are not subject to regulation.