Electric Service FAQs
Electricity Deregulation in Maryland
What is the impact of Electric de-regulation (Customer Choice) on me as an Easton Utilities customer?
Electric industry restructuring was established in Maryland on July 1, 2000. As a municipal electric utility, Easton Utilities does not participate in Maryland 's electric restructuring at this time.
What is the Customer Choice program that was introduced in Maryland?
The Customer Choice program is part of the effort to bring competition to the electric utility industry. It is the result of Maryland legislation that changed the laws and regulations that control the electric industry. These changes are generally referred to as "deregulation." Deregulation doesn't mean "no regulation." It means changes that permit competition and customer choice. The program allows customers to choose where they buy their electricity.
What part of electric service is open to competition and what part is not?
At present, electric utilities essentially do two things:
- Generate electricity at their power plants
- Deliver electricity to homes and businesses
It is the generation portion of the business that has been deregulated in an effort to make the marketplace more competitive. The delivery company will remain the same.
Will all Maryland customers be able to choose their electric generation supplier?
Not all customers will have immediate choice. The program began on July 1, 2000 for customers of the "Investor Owned Utilities" such as Delmarva Power and Light. Some "Electric Cooperatives," like Choptank, opened to choice in 2001. Municipal electric utilities, such as Easton Utilities, are not currently participating in the Customer Choice program. Municipals will choose if and when they will participate in Customer Choice.
Will Easton Utilities customers be able to participate in Maryland's Customer Choice program and choose an electric supplier?
No. Customer Choice will not be an option for Easton Utilities customers at this time. The Maryland Legislature voted to allow each municipal utility more time to study the impact and benefits of Customer Choice. They will make their own decision if and when to participate. Currently, none of the five Maryland municipal electric utilities have plans to participate.
Why has Easton Utilities made the decision not to participate in Customer Choice?
Historically, Easton Utilities' rates have been significantly lower than any surrounding utility. Our rates are lower for several reasons. Easton Utilities already buys energy on the wholesale market and passes the savings directly back to our customers without any mark-up. Additionally, our rates are traditionally lower because we are a community-owned, non-profit utility. The Town of Easton owns Easton Utilities and we are accountable to our customers through elected council members and appointed commissioners. There are no stockholders that require dividends from utility earnings.
Another factor in our decision not to participate at this time is the cost of making the many required changes in utility systems to accommodate the Customer Choice program. The program is new and complex and many changes will occur over the next few years. Delaying our entrance into Customer Choice allows time for the program to mature. Should we elect to participate in the future, it will be less costly to Easton Utilities and therefore less costly to our customers.
If Easton Utilities purchases low-cost wholesale energy, why do they own generating facilities?
Owning generating facilities allows Easton Utilities to buy wholesale energy at the lowest possible price. Without generation, the prices for wholesale energy would be much higher. In addition, during the hot summer months when the demand for energy is very high, Easton Utilities' generating units produce and sell electricity in the competitive energy market at advantageous prices, which helps keep our electric rates low. These units also provide us with the ability to supply power to our entire customer base, adding to our system's reliability.
Are Easton Utilities customers going to be paying more for electricity because they cannot participate in Customer Choice?
No. We will continue to provide competitive electric rates for our customers. EU's customers will continue to benefit from our ability to purchase wholesale electricity and operate as a non-profit, community-owned utility.
How can I learn more about the Customer Choice program for non-municipal customers?
The Maryland Public Service Commission is providing ongoing information about Customer Choice. You can reach them at their toll-free Electric Restructuring Customer Choice Answer Center (800-800-4491), TTY/TDD (800-735-2258), or visit their web site at www.md-electric-info.com.