Many consumers in Maryland may be surprised to learn that the Maryland electricity market has been deregulated since 2004. However, due to political uncertainty and high natural gas prices over the years following 2004, alternative electric suppliers were slow to enter the market.
Fast forward to 2011 and the energy landscape in Maryland has changed for the benefit of Maryland consumers. The majority of state politicians have finally begun to embrace electricity choice and competition, and natural gas prices have come down resulting in lower electricity prices in the competitive market. This has allowed competitive electricity companies enough incentive to take the financial investment required to enter a new market and start offering electric rate products to customers.
Maryland electricity consumers started to see some good offers in 2010 and the options and savings have increased in 2011 in some areas. Notably, BG&E customers are seeing the most solicitations from competitive electric suppliers looking to gain market share. In the coming months customers in other utility areas can expect to start seeing more options. Maryland consumers can look to their neighbors in Pennsylvania to get an idea of how electric choice will shape out. In Pennsylvania, customers of the two biggest utilities (PP&L and PECO) have the most electric rate options. The other smaller utility areas have fewer options, but that is starting to change as the market matures.
Each utility area (BG&E, PEPCO, Delmarva, Allegheny) has different pricing structures and different sets of default rates for competitive suppliers to compete against; it is not a one rate fits all scenario. For each utility market, competitive suppliers need to offer a completely different set of rate options and products. Due to this reality, competitive suppliers usually want to test the water in new states by first offering rates in one or two utility areas. In most cases, they pick the largest customer based utility. This is why currently Baltimore Gas & Electric customers are seeing the most options. As the Maryland electric market matures, all customers will start seeing more and cheaper priced electricity rates, which after all is one of the main purposes of electricity choice.