"You want to ensure that you have actors participating in the marketplace in an appropriate manner," said David Fein, vice president of energy policy at Constellation Energy and president of the Retail Energy Supply Association, a trade group of independent marketers. (North American Power and Viridian are not RESA members.) "If you have a bad actor or actors, that can count in the court of public opinion and reflect poorly on the industry."
Well, maybe the industry should police itself instead of waiting for regulators.
Markets only work with good information. If residential electricity sellers can't give customers full and honest information, maybe that market shouldn't exist.
•Most contracts roll over to a new deal unless you opt out. Note the contract's expiration date and make sure you don't get committed to new terms you don't want.
Getting the right deal
Misinformation about electricity and natural-gas offers is flying. Here's how to avoid a bad deal.
•Never agree to a contract after the first sales call. Ask for written information or visit the company's website to confirm the offer.
•Compare the deal against competing prices listed by the Office of People's Counsel at http://www.opc.state.md.us. Click on "Electricity Retail Supplier Prices."
•BGE's standard "price to compare" from now through May is 10.083 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity and transmission. Measure savings against that.
•If a company promises certain savings but can't quote a rate to compare against BGE's standard offer — that's why they call it the price to compare — hang up.
•Ask about early-cancellation fees, which can be hefty.