GreenLaurel: Take 2 Minutes And Switch Your Home To Renewable Electricity

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Updated 8/3/17: Comparing BGE, Delmarva, PEPCO, Potomac Edison and SMECO/Choptank standard electricity offer to the lowest cost renewable electricity supplier for August 2017.

Marylanders can choose what type of electricity powers our homes and businesses: clean energy or polluting fossil fuels. You may not believe this, but switching to a clean energy product is actually cheaper than BGE’s standard coal-fired power. $110 cheaper in one year. 

It’s mind-boggling to compare the many electricity suppliers and plans. Our Maryland Climate-Friendly Electricity Guide below is designed for residential customers. Learn why and how to switch your home’s electricity supplier. Better yet, we found the lowest rate. This climate action is a no-brainer.  

Six reasons to choose climate-friendly electricity:

1. Coal and nuclear fuel our power plants. 

2. Marylanders choose clean energy suppliers.

3. Renewable is cheaper. Rate winners listed below. 

4. It’s a big deal. Cuts carbon footprint by 25 percent.

5. It’s simple to switch online. 

6. It’s the right thing to do.

Why can Marylanders choose electricity suppliers?

Maryland deregulated energy suppliers in 1999. Let’s say you live in Baltimore: this means that while BGE still owns and services the power lines that bring electricity into your home, competing firms can buy electricity from different power suppliers, and sell it directly to consumers (and businesses).

When you switch suppliers, nothing changes. You still get the same BGE bill, but you will see an additional line item calculating your kilowatt usage multiplied by your contract’s one year locked-in price.

Over 25 percent of BGE’s 1.1 million customers have chosen an alternate supplier. Your default electricity supplier is BGE standard, coal-fired electricity. Why pay more for coal?

How does wind energy get delivered to my home?

It doesn’t. The emission-free wind energy is fed into our Mid-Atlantic PJM electricity grid. Your utility then sends electricity from the grid to your home. The PJM grid provides electricity for 61 million people. A mix of companies feed in electricity that’s generated by: coal (40 percent), nuclear (35 percent), natural gas (21 percent), and renewables – wind, solar, hydro power (4 percent). 

Switching your home’s electricity supplier to a climate-friendly option alerts your utility what type of electricity to purchase on your behalf.  Maryland has determined that state utilities must buy 20 percent renewable by 2020; today we’re at 7 percent. Increased consumer renewable demand means more renewable supply helping to speed up the conversion from fossil fuels to renewables. 

How to Switch:

If you live in BGE territory, Clearview Energy’s 18-month fixed rate of 7.5 cents is the price winner.

Grab your utility bill. Flip it over and find your Electric Choice ID number in the upper left. Pick your supplier from chart below. Visit their web site. Choose residential products, 100 percent renewable, and a 12-month fixed rate. Takes about 2 minutes.

Your Electric Choice ID is located on back of bill. Red arrow shows you the way to clean energy.
Your account’s Electric Choice ID is located on back of bill. The red arrow above shows you the way to clean energy.

Some advice: 

I’m not connected with any supplier. I don’t profit from suggesting a switch to climate-friendly electricity. Current rates are found on the Maryland’s Office of People’s Counsel web site. This state agency advocates for Maryland consumers, a representative reviews each supplier and their Terms and Conditions monthly.  July 2017 electric supplier rate charts are found here for Maryland’s five utilities.  

  1. DO NOT choose a variable rate product. You run the risk of rates going sky high again as they did during the 2014 Polar Vortex cold snap.
  2. DO NOT switch your natural gas from BGE to a supplier. Suppliers charge outrageous rates. 
  3. Watch Your Renewal Date: Switching means you enter into a 1-year contract (or another time frame) to buy electricity at a fixed rate. Electricity and natural gas suppliers can legally switch Maryland residential customers accounts to variable rates if the customer doesn’t watch the renewal. 
  4. If you cancel your contract before it’s end date, there may be a termination fees.
  5. If you switch suppliers, mark your switch anniversary in your calendar. Keep an eye for a renewal letter in your mail at the end of your contract.  Email [email protected] and share your switch date and you will receive a reminder email when to renew and which offer is best. 

Visit Baltimore Fishbowl’s Md. Climate-Friendly Electricity Guide next year for best rates.  Or, bargain hard with your current provider. All BGE electricity suppliers are licensed and vetted by Maryland’s Public Service Commission. Even if your supplier flops, your account will automatically switch back to your utility’s standard option. There is no downside, unless you mess up and choose a variable rate. Or space out and do not actively choose a renewal offer. Suppliers can legally move your account to variable rates. 

July 2017 climate-friendly electricity supplier low price winners:  One-year FIXED rate. No monthly fees.

BGE Price Chart for July 2017

Standard Rate to compare is 8.4 cents

                             Clearview 7.5 (18-monthcontract)

PEPCO  Price Chart for July 2017

Standard Rate to compare is 7.8

                              Clearview 7.8  (18 month contract)

Potomac Edison Price Chart for July 2017

Standard Rate to compare is 6.7

                      Clearview            6.8 

Delmarva Price Chart for July 2017

Standard Rate to compare   7.6 cents

                       Clearview          7.7

SMECO for July 2017

Standard Rate to compare   7.9 cents

                       Clearview          7.9

Still have questions? They’re answered here. Or, email [email protected] 

* According to BGE, the average residence uses 11,100 kWh per year. Compared to BGE’s standard rate, Clearview’s $.01 per kWh savings equates to a yearly savings of $110. I have to add though as I’ve been looking at loads of utility bills, most single-family home’s use a lot more than 11,100 kWh per year!

Laurel Peltier
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Laurel Peltier

Laurel writes the environmental GreenLaurel column every other Thursday in the Baltimore Fishbowl. A graduate of UVA's MBA program, she spends her time with her family and making "all things green" interesting.
Laurel Peltier
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