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Maryland Assembly Approves Bill Requiring Improvements To Maryland PSC Energy Shopping Websites, Rate Boards

Includes Revised Mandate For Participation

April 12, 2019

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Copyright 2010-19
Reporting by Paul Ring •

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The Maryland House and Senate have passed HB0689, which requires the PSC to offer improved versions of retail electricity and natural gas shopping websites which list offers from retail suppliers

The bill requires the PSC to establish a customer choice shopping website that allows a customer to: (1) sort electricity suppliers that have open offers to supply electricity to residential customers in the customer’s service area. While the PSC does currently offer a site with retail supplier rate listings, the rates are not sortable

The bill requires that offers be sortable by

(i) cost of service;

(ii) cost of electricity per kilowatt–hour;

(iii) rate structure;

(iv) duration of the contract;

(v) cancellation fee; and

(vi) any other aspect of service that the commission considers necessary;

The bill requires that the site include a way to compare electricity suppliers based on the sortable items specified above

The bill provides that, "each electricity supplier that is actively seeking residential customers in a service territory in the state shall maintain at least one open offer to supply electricity to residential customers on the commission’s website at all times."

Currently, PSC rules provides that, "Suppliers shall submit open offers to the Commission’s website according to instructions provided by the Commission." [emphasis added, note plural ostensibly requiring all open offers to be listed on the site]

In contrast, the bill only requires the supplier to maintain "at least one" open residential offer on the PSC site, and only if the supplier is actively seeking residential customers

The adopted version of the bill omits earlier language which would have required the site to include a way for a customer to initiate the transition from the customer’s current electricity supplier to another electricity supplier

The bill requires essentially the same provisions for creation of a natural gas shopping website with sortable offers.

The bill also requires that the PSC's consumer education section of the PSC's website shall include fact sheets do the following

• describe common issues about contracts for electricity supply and available options; and

• describe consumer rights and protections that are available and the means of making use of them

Costs of the sortable price website shall be recovered in accordance with § 2–110 of the Public Utilities Article of the Maryland Code, which generally establishes an assessment on public service companies

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