News & Events


Saving Millions: The Impact of Consumer Choices in Maryland’s Restructured Energy Market

By: Tracy McCormick, Executive Director of the Retail Energy Supply Association

Under former Governor Parris Glendening’s 1999 Electric Choice and Competition Act, Maryland made the wise choice to join other states to restructure the market to address rising rates. Today, 13 states and the District of Columbia allow consumers to purchase their energy outside a single-choice, traditional monopoly utility model.  

Glendening recently published an op-ed, “Time to hold consumer retail energy suppliers accountable.” In this article, the same data set referenced by Glendening also demonstrates that restructured states have consistently outperformed states that remained with the vertical utility model. Maryland all-sector electricity prices have increased by only 2.7% from 2008 to 2022, as prices in monopoly states have increased by 40.3% over that same time. Clearly, competitive markets have benefitted all Marylanders, both those choosing to shop for energy and those who opt to remain with the default standard offer service.

More than 500,000 Marylanders, which includes nearly 15% of residential energy consumers, proactively purchased their energy from a competitive electric or gas supplier. This group of consumers chose a product that provides them with more value and better suits their needs than the default option. Sometimes, these customers have elected to pay more for a product that gives them price certainty or a 100% renewable energy option.

The Retail Energy Supply Association (RESA) and Intelometry publish a monthly market savings report. In October alone, Maryland had 179 competitive energy suppliers with offers that were less than the utility’s price-to-compare (PTC) rate. The report shows that Marylanders could have saved more than $39 million in October by shopping for the best deal for electricity. These lower offers are listed on Maryland’s Public Service Commissions (PSC) MD Energy Choice website, a resource championed by Senator Brian Feldman, chair of the Education, Energy and Environment Committee.

The goal of the competitive market is not just to singularly offer the lowest-priced option but also to provide consumers a choice, empowering each individual with the opportunity to make an informed decision on what option is best for their home or business. RESA members have data showing that educating consumers is the best way to support them. helps consumers compare products and available rates and also educates people about the difference between a fixed-rate and a variable-rate plan. Additionally, it can help Marylanders identify options for longer-term contracts to help residents take advantage of the best rates available for as long as possible. Ensuring consumers know about these resources so they can make informed decisions before purchasing electricity or natural gas from a supplier is paramount.

Another way to protect consumers is by enforcing legislation that has been previously adopted. RESA has consistently supported the PSC’s efforts to enact stringent regulations and vigorously supports enforcement. One example was last February when RESA  publicly endorsed the PSC’s strategy to impose consequences on any competitive supplier that chronically does not follow consumer protection rules. There is no question that bad actors harm consumers, but the damage is further reaching. It also impacts the reputation of ethical third-party energy suppliers who operate in the Maryland market. RESA supports the PSC in identifying chronic, intentional offenders and taking action, including revoking their licenses.  

Additionally, legislation introduced by Senator Feldman, and supported strongly by RESA, that was passed and signed by former Governor Hogan (SB 603/ Chapter 374) requires suppliers to undergo annual compliance training to demonstrate an understanding of applicable laws and regulations about consumer protection. What is the point of more legislation on top of existing legislation that has yet to be implemented? RESA would like to see this training implemented so we can hold bad actors accountable.

A significant concern addressed in Glendening’s article focuses on energy costs. Abolishing retail choice in Maryland will not help rates go down; if anything, it will give consumers less control over their energy costs. Last year,  Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. proposed increasing rates by 5% for the delivery of gas and electricity for three years. On average, the proposed increase would mean an additional $31.07 to a customer’s monthly bill to cover utility spending.

BGE currently serves 1.3 million electric and 700 natural gas customers. This translates to a $313 million increase in electric service revenue and a $289 million increase in gas service revenue by default service utilities for capital expenses in 2024 through 2026. At a time when Maryland’s utilities are seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in distribution rate increases, it does not make sense to take choice away from consumers on the one part of their bill they can control.

RESA is steadfast in its commitment to continuing to work with the Commission to ensure that consumers are educated about their options. We encourage the PSC to take action to safeguard all customers from bad actors by enforcing consequences within their authority while we continue to foster a sustainable competitive market to preserve individuals’ power to choose their energy suppliers.

*This article was also published in Maryland Matters on February 22, 2024.