Will MD Reform Retail Choice Market?
After months of research, the MD PSC staff recommended several reforms to Maryland’s energy choice market. While these reforms help protect customers, it’s unclear how they affect MD electricity rates. For now, here’s what you need to know about the proposed retail choice market reforms.
Residential Customer Protections
To begin, when a fixed rate plan ends, retailers notify customers about renewing the contract. But, customers who don’t respond often end up paying rates higher than their utility’s SOS rate. In fact, since 2014, MD customers have reportedly overpaid $1 billion in excessive utility bills. For that reason, staff proposes that customers must give consent when contracts or plans change rates. PSC staffers also want retailers to notify customers when rates change as in the case of month-to-month variable plans.
Next, PSC staff suggested companies record all sales interactions such as door-to-door and phone sales. In addition, companies would have to archive all recordings for at least six months. This would make it easier to follow up on scam complaints.
Lastly, due to the high rate of complaints, PSC staff proposed restricting retailers from using third-party door-to-door agents. They also suggested banning signing enrollment contracts during door-to-door sales visits. Instead, customers would be left with enrollment forms after the agent left. This would take sales pressure off customers and give them more time to choose.
POR Reform Recommendations
Under Maryland purchase of receivables (POR) rules, utilities must pay energy suppliers. That includes when a customer doesn’t pay their bill. As a result, the suppliers face no risk to sales but the utilities must go seek payment from customers. However, some energy suppliers charge very high rates knowing they face little risk to their sales. After all, the utilities must pay those rate charges anyway. PSC staff suggests altering the rules to limit or eliminate POR. This way, suppliers would see a higher risk for unpaid bills. As a result, they would lower rates in order to make plans more affordable.
The Future Of Retail Choice Market
It’s difficult to say exactly how these changes may affect your MD energy bills. Retail choice should help customers pay less for their power. But, better customer protections mean way fewer surprise rate hikes on contract renewals. Customers would also be better protected against scams.
All the same, by eliminating bad practices, these proposed rules could make finding great deals easier. And you can always count on https://www.mdenergyratings.com to help you shop for the cheapest rates in town! You can also check us out for the news that affect your bills.