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Maryland seeing growing competition

Electricity deregulation has been slow develop a serious market for people to compare electricity rates in many states. But The Gazette reports that Maryland has finally begun to see serious levels of competition between retail electricity providers and utility companies.

Maryland introduced electricity deregulation in 1999, but the state ran into the same problems as many others – residents and businesses are skeptical of switching electricity providers from the utilities they have always known.

Businesses were the first to make the switch, since they are forced to compare electricity prices more seriously, because savings can lead to a competitive advantage. But the Maryland Public Service Commission reports that only 38.8 percent of all commercial and industrial customers had switched as of December of last year, though that includes the vast majority of the largest businesses.

Residents, however, have grown dramatically in the past year. Though still only around 20 percent of residential customers have made the switch, that represents a massive rise from the 13 percent last year.

As the state grows more congested, electricity rates have risen dramatically, reaching 13th-highest in the U.S. in 2010, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That rise has made alternative retail providers more attractive to more customers.