Liberty Power: Maryland receives mostly good grades for choices in electric markets

Kevin J. Shay, Staff Writer
Maryland Community Newspapers Online
Feb 13, 2007

Maryland does a fair job when it comes to helping small and mid–sized businesses choose electricity sources, according to a study released Monday by Liberty Power, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., energy company.

The state ranked in the top half of 21 states and Washington, D.C., the company said.

Maryland received an overall grade of B. It received an A in two categories: for not restricting a switch in providers and for having protections from cost overruns. It got a B for its ability to compare prices through simple, accurate price estimates from utilities. However, Maryland scored a D in regulatory climate, as Liberty Power cited state officials´ impact on the Public Service Commission, which has been in turmoil over the past year. Its chairman, Kenneth D. Schisler, resigned under pressure last month.

Four states scored higher than Maryland: New York and Texas both received A–minus, while Maine and Massachusetts scored B–plus. The District also got a B.

Eleven states received below a B, including Montana and Nevada, which both scored an F. Nevada allows only businesses that use more than 1 megawatt to shop for power, while Montana restricts small businesses to shopping only through aggregation pools.

The study examined only the states that have restructured electric systems. Electricity costs were cited as one of small business owners´ chief concerns in a recent survey by the National Federation of Independent Business.

Liberty Power, a minority–owned small business certified by the U.S. Small Business Administration, operates in Maryland, the District, New York and Texas.