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Consumer Protection

Overall Consumer Protection

Residential users of utility services are protected by a variety of consumer protection laws and regulations, but it sometimes can be confusing to figure out what the rules are, and who to contact with a complaint. For information on consumer dispute procedures, check out our Consumer Dispute information.

The Maryland Public Service Commission (MD PSC) is the state agency that regulates utility companies in Maryland. For lists of these companies look in: Electric Companies, Natural Gas Companies, Private Water Companies, and Local Telephone Companies. MD PSC has broad authority over these regulated companies, and is responsible for ensuring that the utility rates are “just and reasonable,” and the services are safe, reliable and good quality.  Since these companies are monopolies, the rates, terms and conditions of utility service must be approved by the Maryland Public Service Commission, and published in “Tariffs”. These tariffs are available on the websites of the individual utility companies and are available in the offices of the Public Service Commission.

In addition to approving the utility-specific tariffs, the Maryland Public Service Commission also has consumer protection regulations that apply to the utilities. These regulations set out specific requirements for the handling of utility service applications, credit and security deposits, payment problems, terminations of service, reconnections, meters, billing and dispute procedures.

Maryland utility companies are NOT subject to Maryland’s consumer protection laws, such as the Consumer Protection Act Title 13, since they are monopoly companies and heavily regulated by the MD PSC.

For more information, check out OPC Fact Sheets. You can also read the actual regulations at Code of Maryland Regulation Title 20.

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Electric and Gas Retail Suppliers

Maryland law permits non-regulated competitive companies to offer electricity and gas supply services to residential customers in Maryland. These companies must receive a license from the MD PSC, and must follow the Commission’s rules on marketing and solicitation, non-discrimination, contracts and termination of service.  These rules have been substantially revised in the face of numerous customer complaints, effective May, 1, 2016

Retail suppliers also are subject to Maryland’s general consumer protection laws, including the Consumer Protection Act, the Telephone Solicitation Act, and the Door-to-Door Sales Act. These laws prohibit deceptive and misleading actions by retail suppliers, and impose certain requirements for solicitations by phone or at your home. The Consumer Protection Division of the Office of Attorney General enforces these laws.  Howard County and Montgomery County also have agencies to enforce local consumer protection laws.

For more information, check out the "Retail Suppliers" link on this website.

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Rooftop, Community Solar and Other Distributed Generation

The MD PSC does not regulate rooftop solar installers or installers of other types of distributed generation.  Consumer complaints about the marketing, contracting or installation practices can be made to the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of Attorney General or to the local Consumer Affairs offices in Howard and Montgomery Counties.

The PSC does exercise oversight over the local electric utility and the interconnection with the utility.  Complaints about utility interconnection problems should be made to the PSC.

There is a new Community Solar Pilot Program, and the PSC is proposing a set of regulations, including consumer protection regulations.  Once the program is up and running, a consumer can submit a complaint to the PSC if the subscribing organization does not follow the regulations.

For more information about rooftop solar and community solar contracts, check out these consumer protection reports:

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Wireless, Long Distance, Cable and Broadband Services

The MD PSC regulates local landline telephone service only. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) oversees long distance telephone service and Internet-based phone service (Voice Over Internet Protocol or “VOIP”). The FCC also shares consumer protection jurisdiction over wireless telephone service with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Cable service and broadband services are not regulated by the MD PSC.

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