Who is My Electricity Provider? Knowing Who’s Who in the Maryland Energy Industry

“So who is your electricity provider?” That’s my go-to question when I’m meeting someone new at a party. I know it’s a little different than the normal “So where are you from?” or “What do you do for a living?” type questions, and that’s one of the reasons why I ask it. It raises eyebrows. It breaks the ice. It starts a conversation. Also, most people don’t know the answer. To me, that’s interesting.

It isn’t something people really think about every day. You flip the switch; the lights come on. That’s as far as most people get. But if you actually spend a little time digging into the energy industry, you’ll find that there’s a lot to know about where your electricity comes from. Especially in a state like Maryland, which has restructured its energy market, the question can flip a switch in someone’s head. Maybe they’ll start researching deregulated energy in their state, becoming more informed of their choices.  So let me ask you: Who is your electricity provider?

Maryland Electrical Utilities

Your first response might be the obvious: the utility is, right? Sure, okay, but which one? There are more than a dozen answers to this question because electricity in Maryland is delivered by a series of utilities. These utilities are investor-owned, municipally owned, or rural electricity cooperatives, who deliver your electricity based on where you live. Take a look at this list to find your county and see who likely delivers your electricity:

  • Investor-owned
    • Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE)
      • Baltimore City; Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Howard, Carroll, Harford, Prince George’s Montgomery & Calvert Counties.
    • Delmarva Power
      • Upper & Lower Eastern Shore
    • Potomac Electric Power Company (Pepco)
      • Montgomery & Prince George’s County
    • Allegheny power
      • Garrett, Allegany, Washington, Frederick, Carroll, Howard & Montgomery Counties
  • Municipally owned
    • Berlin Municipal Electric Plant
    • Easton Utilities Commission
    • City of Hagerstown Light Department
    • Thurmont Municipal Light Company
    • Williamsport Municipal Electric Light System
  • Rural Cooperatives
    • A&N Electric Cooperative
      • Smith Island
    • Choptank Electric Cooperative
      • Upper & Lower Eastern Shore
    • Somerset Rural Electric Cooperative
      • Garrett County
    • Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative
      • St. Mary’s, Charles, Calvert, and Prince George’s County

If you live in a county covered by more than one utility, check out this map to see whose territory you live in. Also, your electricity provider should identify themselves on your monthly bill. If for some reason they haven’t, unfortunately there’s no way to simply type in your address and find out who provides your electricity. So, if you live right on a border, the best way to check is to call the two utilities nearest you and see who has you on file.

Third-Party Energy Suppliers Provide Options to Maryland Customers

Now that you know your utility, you know who delivers your electricity. The next question is, do you have to buy from them? Unless you get your electricity from one of the municipal energy suppliers—A&N Electric, or Somerset Electric—the answer is no. The state of Maryland allows third-party energy suppliers to sell electricity to residential customers via the existing utility infrastructure. The addition of third-party energy suppliers introduces free market competition and encourages suppliers to provide more competitive pricing and deal structures to attract customers. If you live somewhere that isn’t covered by A&N, Somerset, or one of the municipal suppliers, you can choose for yourself who you’d like to buy your electricity from.

So how do you know who offers the best deal? This is where it gets a little complicated. There are hundreds of electricity suppliers licensed to operate in Maryland. The best way to find a list of the ones operating in your area is to look them up on Maryland’s electric supplier directory. This will provide you with the names, addresses, and phone numbers of every supplier you can choose from.

From there, it’s time to compare. There are a few different ways third-party energy suppliers structure their plans. One of the biggest differences is a variable vs. fixed rate. Variable rates fluctuate based on the current market price for electricity, which means the price is based on supply and demand and hotter vs. colder months of the year. If supply gets restricted, the price can go up; if there is an overabundance of supply, the price can go down. Prices always increase during the hotter, summer months – in conjunction with supply increasing due to hotter weather. Fixed rates on the other hand, are agreed upon when customers sign up for their plan, ensuring that the price of each kilowatt hour will stay the same for the duration of the agreement. This guaranteed rate allows for greater predictability and can help you budget more effectively.

Other things to look for when choosing an electricity supplier include the length of the plan, whether renewal is automatic, whether prices will stay the same after renewal, cancellation fees, deposits, and late fees or other fees. Maryland’s Attorney General provides a good set of questions to ask when considering electric suppliers.

Purchasing Renewable Energy Credits from Third-Party Suppliers

The last thing to ask about is what type of power plants your electricity is purchased from. Are they coal plants, nuclear plants, wind farms, or solar farms? If you have a preference for renewable sources, some suppliers offer you the opportunity to support these options by purchasing renewable energy credits (RECs). When a customer purchases a REC as part of their plan, their energy supplier guarantees that they will purchase that same amount of energy from renewable sources, like wind and solar. While these plans may be slightly more expensive than the ones that do not discriminate between energy sources, they provide environmentally conscious customers with peace of mind.

So, now you know who provides your electricity. Even better, you know you have options and can make an informed choice about who you would like to be your energy provider, under what terms, and from which sources. By spending some time comparing providers, you will be able to find the best plan for your needs. If you’re looking for stability, terms that make sense for you, and protection against market volatility, fixed-rate plans may be your best fit. If you’re looking to take an active role in promoting cleaner, greener energy, seek out a company that offers renewable energy credits.

At Liberty Power, we’re proud to offer Maryland consumers fixed- and variable-rate energy plans of varying lengths, as well as renewable energy credits. To learn more, check out the plans we have available in your area.

Liberty Power Editorial Team
The Editorial Team at Liberty Power is a swashbuckling group of passionate and creative Energy experts bringing you the hottest topics on exciting market trends, booming products and services, and the latest news in the industry.
July 13, 2017