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Power lines near a substation in southeastern Howard County belong to Baltimore Gas and Electric. BGE and Pepco, which serves other areas in Maryland, are part of the regional PJM Interconnection.
Power lines near a substation in southeastern Howard County belong to Baltimore Gas and Electric. BGE and Pepco, which serves other areas in Maryland, are part of the regional PJM Interconnection. (Sun photo by Doug Kapustin)

The Sun’s editorial, “Maryland must crack down on energy suppliers that entice people into bad, pricey contracts” (Dec. 3), badly misconstrues the state of retail energy supply in Maryland and ignores the Public Service Commission’s efforts to police bad actors and enforce the law in a competitive marketplace where customers can choose their energy supplier.

First, let’s set the record straight with facts. Contrary to the statements made in the editorial, the Maryland Public Service Commission initiated all of the complaints currently under investigation, not the Office of People’s Counsel. The PSC is constantly monitoring the market with additional cases under internal investigation. This year, the PSC took decisive action against a gas supplier that engaged in unlawful conduct. The PSC revoked that supplier’s Maryland license, levied a record-breaking, half-million dollar fine and ordered refunds to customers.

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If the commission had been invited to comment on the editorial, we could have provided valuable information about our enforcement processes and helped educate the public about their rights and responsibilities when choosing their electric and gas supply. Now, let’s look at the numbers we’ve reported to the General Assembly. In FY 2019, over 650,000 residential customers chose a retail energy company to provide their electricity or natural gas supply. During this period, the PSC assisted customers in recovering more than $400,000 based on a total of 703 supplier-related complaints. We would note that complaints against suppliers have trended downward since 2014. The commission is mindful of its oversight responsibility and thoroughly investigates every allegation that a company may be breaking the rules.

The Sun improperly suggests that practically all energy suppliers are out to scam the public and should be viewed with suspicion. This is simply untrue. The majority of retail energy suppliers are legitimate businesses that serve more than a half-million residential utility customers in Maryland. The Commission is not slowing down and plays an important role beyond simply enforcement. Early next year, we will continue our efforts to educate customers by launching an enhanced online marketplace tool to assist those who wish to shop for an electricity supplier.

The Sun should rest assured that the PSC and its Consumer Affairs staff are “paying attention” and diligently working both to protect Maryland consumers and promote the state’s policy to empower customers to shop for electric and natural gas suppliers that best serve their needs.

Jason M. Stanek, Baltimore

The writer is chairman of the Maryland Public Service Commission.

Add your voice: Respond to this piece or other Sun content by submitting your own letter.

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