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    Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE) has recently reported that only 30% of its customers have participated in electric choice, meaning that they have chosen a retail electricity provider for the supply side of their electric service.

    At the end of 2010, 82% of BGE's customers hadn't selected a provider. While this number decreased to 75% in 2011 and 70% in 2012, Maryland began deregulating its energy market in 1999, so the fact that these numbers are so high is quite surprising.

    It is safe to say that most BGE customers are missing out on lower electric rates and better, more customized plans that many retail electricity providers have to offer. By default, all customers started out purchasing their electricity from BGE, but deregulation allowed both residential and business customers to shop around for the supply side of electric service, with BGE continuing to provide the distribution and transmission services.

    Because BGE cannot profit from selling electric supply, there's no incentive to keep supply customers. Furthermore, BGE cannot discriminate among shopping and non-shopping customers when it comes to distribution, transmission, and maintenance of infrastructure. These are services that are charged to each BGE customer, no matter where the actual supply of electricity comes from.

    Non-shopping customers will find that many retail electricity providers offer rates lower than those that BGE currently offers. And as more customers switch, all shopping customers benefit through increased competition among the providers. After all, these providers want your business, and most strive to undercut their competitors in terms of pricing in order to secure and retain you as a customer.

    You can learn more about comparing retail electricity providers and their rates here.