The Basics of Electric Service
With electric choice, consumers can select the company that generates the power they buy. Competition among electric generation suppliers may bring cost savings to consumers. To make the best choices, you'll need to understand the different services you use and pay for when you receive electricity. These services include the following:
- Generation: electricity is produced, or generated, at a power plant, also called a generating station.
- Transmission: electricity transmitted on high-voltage lines from the power plant to areas where it will be used.
- Distribution: the electric distribution company, for instance Potomac Edison, uses its wires, transformers, substations, and other equipment to deliver the electricity to homes and businesses.
Some people compare this system to the way consumer products, such as clothing and furniture, move from manufacturers to customers. Power plants are like the manufacturing plants and the transmission system compares to the system of wholesalers who provide products to retailers. The distribution system would be the retail stores that deliver products to customers.
Your electric generation supplier will charge for the cost of generating electricity. The supplier also will charge you for the cost of getting the energy to our wires. Potomac Edison will charge you for the cost of delivering the electricity to you, as well as other costs, such as meter reading and billing.
Potomac Edison will continue to provide the same services we have in the past, except that you now will be able to decide who supplies your electric generation. We'll continue to maintain and operate our transmission and distribution system. In addition, we'll continue to supply electric generation to customers who do not choose another supplier, and we'll continue to read meters, bill customers, resolve complaints and restore service if an outage occurs.
For additional information about electric choice, call our Retail Choice Center toll-free at 1-800-827-0048.
How to Participate
It's easy for Potomac Edison customers to participate in the choice program.
All you need to do is sign up with a supplier. The supplier will need information, including your name, address, phone number and 20-digit customer number to provide service. The supplier also may ask you for permission to have the utility release your energy use information.
When you shop, you'll use your "standard offer service price" to check the prices offered by suppliers. In order to save money, you must buy your electricity from a supplier at a price that is less than the standard offer service price you'll receive from Potomac Edison.
If you buy your electricity from a supplier, your bill may include the cost of the kilowatt-hours purchased from the supplier.
How to Shop
Shopping for electricity isn't difficult. Like the other shopping you do, it involves three steps: gathering information, checking prices and making a choice.
The place to begin is with the material Potomac Ediston sent you along with this Shopping Guide. It includes information you'll need to make a smart decision, including your 12-month energy use history, a list of eligible suppliers and your standard offer service price. The standard offer service price will help you determine whether a supplier's electricity price will save you money.
After reviewing the material, start contacting the suppliers by phone or on the Internet. To sell electricity in MD, each supplier has to meet eligibility requirements established by the Maryland Public Service Commission and the utility whose customers they will serve.
Ask questions and compare the prices and services offered by the suppliers. Evaluate those factors against Potomac Edison's standard offer service price. If the supplier price is less than your Potomac Edison standard offer service price, the difference represents your potential savings on the cost of electricity supply. (You must contact the individual suppliers for details on their pricing.)
Make a Choice
If you decide to buy your electricity from a supplier, the supplier you select will ask for your 20-digit customer number. By providing your customer number to the supplier, you are authorizing the supplier to switch your electric supply service to that supplier. The supplier will notify Potomac Edison, and we will send you a letter confirming your selection.
Questions to Ask
Here are some questions to ask suppliers as you shop for a new supplier:
Frequently Asked Questions
Will My Electric Service Be Less Reliable If I Participate In Maryland's Electric Choice Program?
No. Your participation in the Maryland Electric Choice program will not affect the reliability of your electric service.
Potomac Edison will continue to be responsible for delivering power over their wires to all customers in their service areas, regardless of which electric generation supplier customers have chosen. This service will continue to be subject to regulation by the Maryland Public Service Commission (MsPSC).
Whom Do I Call If My Power Goes Off?
Potomac Edison will be responsible for restoring your electric service during outages. Call either company toll-free at 1-800-827-0048 to report a power outage.
If I Choose Another Electric Generation Supplier, Will I Receive Two Electric Bills?
Potomac Edison customers who select an alternative electric generation supplier may have the option to choose to receive one or two bills for their electric service. In the single-bill option, customers will receive one bill that includes Potomac Edison distribution charges and their electric generation supplier's charges. In the two-bill or dual bill option, customers will receive one bill from Potomac Ediston that reflects the distribution charges and one bill from their electric generation supplier that reflects the generation charges.
Whom Do I Call With Questions About My Electric Bill?
Customers should call the Retail Choice Center at 1-800-827-0048 with questions about Potomac Edison charges. Customers should call the supplier directly with questions about its charges. The supplier's phone number is listed on each customer's electric bill.
- Will My Electric Service Be Less Reliable If I Participate In Maryland's Electric Choice Program?
Types of Electric Suppliers
All businesses and residential customers in the Potomac Edison service territories can shop for their electric generation supplier. The supplier you choose might be a firm located in Maryland or elsewhere in the U.S. If you decide not to choose a supplier right away, Potomac Edison will continue to supply your electricity until you do.
The following are some of the types of electric generation suppliers.
- Aggregator - An entity, licensed by the MdPSC that purchases electric energy and takes title to electric energy as an intermediary for a large number of consumers and to bargain on their behalf for electricity and related services. The group "aggregates" or combines customers into one large customer for purposes of negotiation. It purchases the electricity as a single customer for the group.
- Electric Generation Supplier - A person or corporation, generator, broker, marketer, aggregator or any other entity licensed by the MdPSC that sells electricity to customers, using the transmission or distribution facilities of an electric distribution company.
- Investor Owned Utility - A utility company owned and operated by private investors.
- Marketer - A company, licensed by the MdPSC that buys and resells electricity, but typically does not own generating facilities.
Additional definitions can be found at the Maryland Public Service Commission (MdPAC) website.
All electric generation suppliers must be licensed by the MdPSC, including municipalities and boroughs that want to provide service outside their municipal limits. Rural electric cooperatives must have a certificate to supply service outside their areas.
All licensed suppliers will be required to furnish a bond that will ensure their financial responsibility and the supply of electricity to satisfy their contracts. Consumers who want to know if an electric supplier is licensed can check with the MdPSC or ask Potomac Edison for the MdPSC's list of licensed suppliers.
For additional information about electric competition, call the Retail Choice Center toll-free at 1-800-827-0048.