Maryland Commission Strengthens Consumer Protection Rules

On February 10, 2016, the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) approved final retail market consumer protection rules (Docket RM54) for competitive electric and gas suppliers. These rules are expected to be published on March 4, 2016 and will become effective ten days later.
The new rules implemented include operational changes, as well as many additional consumer protections for residential and small commercial customers.  For example, under the new rules a utility will implement “accelerated switching,” a more efficient process that allows a customer to switch supply service within three days.  On the consumer protection side, the new rules include many safeguards including:

  • New standards applicable to agent on-boarding, including agent background checks, training, and identification;
  • Strict door-to-door sales, and notifications requirements;
  • Requires a Contract Summary to accompany the Agreement;
  • Strengthens the definition of consent and clarifies who may legally execute an energy supply contract; and
  • Requires notice to customers of a change in rate under certain circumstances.

At the hearing when the rules were adopted, Baltimore Gas & Electric and Pepco noted that that will likely seek extensions in order to comply with the new rules.

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