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Revised Consumer Protection Rules Advancing in Maryland

In early October, 2015, the Maryland Public Service Commission approved for publication in the Maryland Register revised consumer protection rules applicable to the marketing and sale of electricity and natural gas by licensed retail suppliers. The Commission’s approval comes after more than a year of stakeholder working group meetings as well as legislative-style hearings that occurred in February, September, and October 2015.  GreeneHurlocker’s lawyers have been involved in these proceedings since day one, and we have previously blogged about them here and here.

Among the many new provisions, the revised Rules require utilities to process a customer’s request to switch electricity providers within three business days, and they require retail suppliers to make additional up-front pricing disclosures in the contracts they offer to prospective customers. The revised Rules also include entire new sections relating to retail suppliers’ relationships with their agents who solicit customers on their behalf.

It is anticipated that the revised Rules will be published in the Maryland Register by the end of 2015 although there is no definite timetable.  Once published, interested persons will have 30 days to submit comments to the Commission. After that, the Commission will hold a hearing to vote on whether the revised Rules should be approved and, if approved, they will appear in the Maryland Register as final.  The Commission stated at its October 2015 meeting that the revised Rules will become effective once they are final, and any utility or retail supplier that cannot comply will be expected to seek a waiver from the Commission.

Our firm is participating in these Maryland proceedings, representing the Retail Energy Supply Association.