Maryland deregulated its energy markets in 1999. The aim was to create a decentralized free market for private electricity and natural gas suppliers who would offer customers a choice: stay with the Standard Offer Services provided by the utility companies -- Baltimore Gas & Electric and Pepco (which are now the same company) -- or switch to a third-party supplier who could offer a range of residential services and -- supposedly -- stable and competitive energy prices.
More than a hundred companies have jumped into that market over the past 20 years, and roughly 20% of Maryland utility customers made the switch. That’s about a half a million people.
The Abell Foundation commissioned a study last year to find out whether or not those people who did switch energy suppliers have gotten a good deal. The co-authors of the Abell Foundation report join Tom today.
On the line from his office in Takoma Park, Maryland, is Dr. Arjun Makhijani. He’s the president of the non-profit Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. He’s written extensively on commercial energy systems, conservation, and the transition to renewable energy sources.
And with us in the studio is Laurel Peltier, who writes about business and environmental issues on her Website, greenlaurel.com. She also covers the environment for the Baltimore FishBowl. Laurel has created a useful guide to help you read - and understand - your BGE bill. You can see the guide here.