Do “Green Energy” Alternatives Have a Transparency Problem?

A radio feature discusses Maryland’s experience since the 1999 deregulation of electric purchasing, and finds inconsistent pricing among “cleaner” alternatives

On Baltimore public radio station WYPR‘s regular feature The Environment In Focus, host Tom Pelton discussed Maryland’s experience with de-regulated purchasing of electricity, enacted in 1999.

From the website containing both the audio feed and the text of the feature:

The whole point of the law was to make electricity cheaper for average folks. The idea was to give people the freedom to choose whether to keep buying from old-fashioned, regulated public utilities like BGE or PEPCO, or sign contracts with a whole galaxy of new, unregulated electric providers.

Utility executives who pushed the scheme made millions.

But customers did not make out so well. Two decades after the deregulation law passed, a pair of authoritative reports — by the Maryland Office of People’s Counsel and the Abell Foundation — have concluded that Maryland rate payers were ripped off and are now paying more, not less, as promised.

The public debate regarding electricity deregulation in 1999 was far-reaching and controversial, with widespread effects on service continuity, customer affordability, and related tax policy. Maryland was one of many states during that stretch of time to debate and enact an opening of the market for purchasing electricity, while keeping its distribution housed with regulated utilities. Marylanders have, ever since, had the ability to select the supplier of the electricity that is distributed through their local utility distribution system.

The report further discusses the availability of alternative energy suppliers billing themselves as “green” or “clean,” and the substantial price variations in their offerings.

Read, or listen to, this short episode of The Environment in Focus via the WYPR website.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties
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