What is gas customer choice?

As a Maryland natural gas customer, you can purchase gas from a retail natural gas supplier or from your regulated gas utility. Retail gas suppliers are licensed by the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC), and typically market natural gas to you through the mail, over the phone, over the Internet, or in person (door-to-door).

What is a retail natural gas supplier?

Your retail natural gas supplier is the company that provides your gas supply service. In Maryland, you can choose your natural gas supplier. To do business in Maryland, retail gas suppliers must be licensed by the PSC and complete the utility’s registration process.

Do I have to choose a retail natural gas supplier?

No, you don’t have to. You may choose to remain with your utility for default supply service.

What will remain the same if I choose a retail natural gas supplier?

Your utility continues to deliver gas to your home. Your utility still responds to service interruptions and continues to maintain the system that distributes natural gas. You will continue to receive the same service you are used to with your utility, regardless of which retail natural gas supplier you choose to provide your service.

Can I save money by choosing a retail natural gas supplier?

You may be able to save money, but not always. You may be able to receive other value-added products and services from a retail natural gas supplier. You may be able to choose how long you want to lock in your price (from one month up to several years), select from different billing and payment options, and/or select other contract terms. You can compare offers from retail gas suppliers in your area with the utility supply price.

Why should I shop for natural gas?

Just as you shop for any household item or service, you may shop for your gas supply to find the best deal and service to meet your needs. Competitive offers may not be available in all areas.

Where can I find a list of retail natural gas suppliers?

All retail natural gas suppliers are licensed by the Maryland PSC. The PSC provides a list of licensed retail gas suppliers.

How long will it take to switch to a new retail natural gas supplier?

You will begin receiving service from your new retail natural gas supplier effective the first day of the next month after the utility’s receipt of the appropriate electronic enrollment transaction from your selected retail natural gas supplier (or the first day of the next subsequent month if received by a utility less than seven days before the first day of the next month). A utility, however, is not required to process more than two enrollments and two drops per customer per bill cycle.

Will I receive two gas bills if I choose a new retail gas supplier?

Depending on the retail natural gas supplier you choose, you may be able to receive a single monthly bill from your utility that details the retail gas supplier’s charges separately. Some retail gas suppliers may choose to bill you separately. In this case, you would receive two bills — one from your utility and one from the retail gas supplier. Before contracting, you should ask the retail gas supplier for the available billing options.

Are there any charges or fees for choosing alternative retail natural gas supplier or canceling a contract?

There are no charges or fees to switch from a utility to a retail gas supplier. When choosing a retail gas supplier, you will be required to enter into a contract (in writing, over the phone, or over the Internet). Understand the terms, conditions, length of contract, and any early termination fees that may be imposed by the retail gas supplier before agreeing to the contract. Fixed-term contracts that do not include early cancellation fees may allow the supplier to cancel early.

Will I still be able to take advantage of “budget billing”?

Yes. Residential customers can continue to receive budget billing from their utility, for the distribution portion of their service, and customers may contact their utility and request budget billing at any time. Retail natural gas suppliers are not required to offer budget billing, but many do. Contact your retail gas supplier to inquire about its ability to offer budget billing. If you are already on budget billing with your utility, your utility account may be reviewed and reconciled (trued-up) prior to starting service with your new retail gas supplier. Budget billing allows you to pay a fixed amount each month. Budget billing averages bills out over 12 months, so each monthly bill will be the same amount until the total bill is paid. The company may adjust the bill throughout the year, up or down, depending on your gas usage.

My utility has always been a good company. Why should I switch now?

Maryland law allows you to decide whether to purchase natural gas supply from your utility or a licensed retail gas supplier. You may be able to save money or find a product to better suit your needs by switching to a retail gas supplier. If you switch, your utility will continue to deliver your gas, and respond to emergencies or service quality issues. The quality, reliability, and maintenance of your gas service will not change and will continue to be monitored and regulated by the PSC.

I just found out about a new retail gas supplier with a better deal than the one I have now. How do I take advantage of it?

When you choose a retail gas supplier, you commit to a contract (either in writing, by phone, or online). Before canceling your existing retail gas supplier contract, review your agreement with your current retail gas supplier to see if there are any penalties for early cancellation. If you are not sure, call your current retail gas supplier to find out when your contract ends, and whether any early termination fees apply if you cancel before the contract expires. Be sure to ask your new retail gas supplier if they have any fees or penalties for cancelling or switching service, before signing a contract.

A retail gas supplier has contacted me. Is this appropriate?

You may be contacted by retail gas suppliers through a variety of ways, including by telephone, mailers, or door-to-door solicitations. It is up to you whether to continue the conversation. If you wish to explore a business relationship with a retail gas supplier, first make sure the retail gas supplier is licensed by the PSC. Ask for the retail gas supplier’s license number, and confirm it on the PSC’s Supplier Search. Do not provide your utility account number until you have decided to shop for gas service with a given retail gas supplier and have entered into a contract. If you receive a telephone call from a retail gas supplier and your name is on the federal Do-Not-Call Registry, this contact is not appropriate. Report the retail gas supplier to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Maryland Office of the Attorney General. A door-to-door salesperson also may need a peddler’s license from your town or county government.

Who should I call about leaks and repairs?

You will still call your utility about gas leaks, gas odors and repairs.

Who do I contact if I have billing questions?

If you have a question about the gas supply charges, contact your retail gas supplier. The retail gas supplier and utility contact information can be found on your bill and in your gas supply contract.

If I have a problem with a retail gas supplier or my utility, where can I go for help?

If you are unable to resolve your concerns with the retail gas supplier or utility directly, you may bring your concerns to the PSC’s Consumer Affairs Division (CAD).  You may contact CAD online or in writing to:

Maryland Public Service Commission
Consumer Affairs Division
William Donald Schaefer Tower
6 St. Paul Street, 15th Floor
Baltimore, MD 21202

If I choose a new retail natural gas supplier, can I still receive help in paying my gas bill or still use MEAP (Maryland Energy Assistance Program)?

Yes, call your local Office of Home Energy Programs or call the Maryland OHEP office at 1-800-352-1446. If your income is limited, energy assistance programs are available to help you pay part of your bill or lower the amount of gas you use. Selecting a retail gas supplier does not impact your eligibility for assistance programs.

If I have an unpaid balance on my gas account, can I still switch?

Yes, but first you will need to call your utility and make an arrangement to pay for any outstanding balance in your account. Once you’ve done this, you can shop for a retail natural gas supplier.