Despite recent news that Delmarva Power will lower their standard offer service for their residential customers on June 1, taking the initiative to compare electricity rates can result in even more savings for these same customers. Many Delmarva Power customers are still unaware of their ability to purchase their electricity from a alternative electricity supplier. The most recent data from the Maryland Public Service Commission shows that as of March 31, 2016 only 15.2% of residential customers who receive their electricity from Delmarva Power were purchasing it from a competitive supplier. Statewide 21% of residential customers have switched suppliers with the largest utility, BG&E, leading the way with a quarter (25%) of the residential customers electing to participate in Maryland electricity choice.
It is unclear as to why the Delmarva Power customer pool has lagged behind the state’s other service areas in electricity shopping activity, however there are a few theories. First, Delmarva Power’s small size may have stunted the growth early on in the early stages of Maryland’s electricity choice life. As the smallest utility in Maryland servicing under 200,000 residential customers, Delmarva Power is about one-sixth the size of BG&E. Due to the large capital investment required to enter a new electricity market, when Maryland first became a competitive market more energy suppliers entered the BG&E market and held off on Delmarva Power. The marketing efforts of these suppliers lead to more BG&E customers becoming educated on the benefits of electricity choice. With only a handful of competitive suppliers in Delmarva at this time, the awareness of alternative options has been a lagging process.
Another reason is the complications of finding the correct choice ID number on the Delmarva electric bill. In order to switch to a competitive Maryland electricity supplier a Delmarva customer must provide their 22 digit service number which can be found on the electric bill. In addition to the Service Number, a 12 digit Account Number exists on the bill which often gets customers confused about which number to provide. The Service Number is relatively new going into effect at the beginning of 2015. Prior to that competitive suppliers needed to collect the Delmarva Account Number. Some industry workers believe that many Delmarva customers being the comparison process, but then get stuck when trying to find the 22 digit Service Number which is usually found on the second page of the electric bill.
Whether or not these reasons are contributing to the lack of shopping activity is unknown, however what is known is that 85% of Delmarva Power residential customers living in Maryland can decrease their electric bills by comparing electricity suppliers. Customers who have not chosen to purchase their power from a competitive supplier pay the Delmarva Power Standard Offer Service for electricity generation and transmission. On June 1, 2016 the Standard Offer Service will drop from above 9 cents to 8.60 cents, which might stunt shopping activity even more. However, despite the decrease, several competitive suppliers are offering rates that are 7 – 13% lower than the new Standard Offer Service. Customers who are willing to compare competitive Delmarva rates to the default Standard Offeer Service can reduce their electric bills even more this summer.