The Basics

Most customers in Maryland have the power to choose their energy supplier of your electricity. Below is a brief introduction to customer choice.

What is Customer Choice?

Customer choice allows Marylanders to choose the supplier of their electric power. This process is also called deregulation or restructuring. In Maryland, customer choice for many consumers began in July 2000. Customer choice means companies other than your local utility compete to sell you electricity.

SMECO only sells electricity to customers in its service area. If you live outside SMECO’s service area, you cannot purchase electricity from SMECO.

Your electric bill is divided into sections that show how each charge is calculated to help you compare costs for electric supply.

Who provides electric service?

Your local utility continues to deliver your power. The transmission of electricity over long distances and the distribution of power to your home or business are regulated by the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) to ensure that the reliability of your service will not be affected.

Though you may choose another power supplier, the lines and equipment serving your home or business do not change. Your local utility maintains this equipment and responds to your call for service.

Do I have to choose another supplier?

No. For those who wish not to choose — or in the event that a supplier fails to deliver power — a “standard offer” service is available. Standard offer service is provided by your local utility.

Are consumers protected?

Maryland’s customer choice law contains a variety of consumer protections against fraud, deceptive practices, and unfair discrimination. The law authorizes the PSC to license all power suppliers. If violations occur, the PSC may also punish or revoke the license of suppliers. Customer information cannot be disclosed without customer consent except for bill collection and credit rating purposes.

For more information on Maryland’s customer choice law, visit SMECO’s Fact Sheet on Electric Industry Restructuring.

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