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AARP-Backed Maryland Law Protects Energy Customers

Senior woman reading papers with interest at home table
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En español | New protections are coming for Maryland consumers who want to shop around to find the best electricity and gas rates.

AARP-backed legislation signed into law by Gov. Wes Moore on May 9 puts new restrictions on retail, or third-party, energy suppliers.

Since Maryland deregulated its energy market 25 years ago, consumers have been able to choose their utility company’s regulated rate or shop for a better deal through one of the unregulated retail suppliers.

But bad actors in the retail energy market have overcharged consumers, particularly older residents with lower incomes.

Some suppliers have used aggressive and deceptive sales tactics to entice people with low introductory rates or perks like gift cards, only to switch them to a higher rate soon after the contract is signed, AARP and other consumer advocates told lawmakers in advocating for the protections.

Under the new law, which takes effect July 1, retail energy suppliers can’t charge above the regulated utility rate unless they are selling green energy, and can’t automatically renew a customer’s contract without providing notice.

The law also increases state oversight of the retail energy market; imposes new standards for “clean energy” marketing; requires people who sell retail energy to become licensed by the state; and imposes penalties for those who engage in fraudulent practices, among other changes.

Calling the new law “a tremendous victory for Maryland ratepayers,” AARP Maryland State Director Hank Greenberg said it will immediately deliver $200 million annually back into the pockets of Marylanders.

The average customer in 2022 paid 50 percent more for their electricity by using a retail supplier, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

“For years, we’ve heard stories about the struggles of our neighbors who were unfairly overcharged by retail energy suppliers. But that will soon end,” Greenberg said.

The law comes after years of advocacy from AARP and builds on our work to ensure older adults have access to affordable utilities.

Read more about the law and keep up with our advocacy work in Maryland.

Natalie Missakian covers federal and state policy and writes AARP’s Fighting for You Every Day blog. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Haven Register and daily newspapers in Ohio. She has also written for the AARP Bulletin, the Hartford Business Journal and other publications.

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