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Know More - Electricity deregulation

October 01, 2006

The issue: Businesses faced the prospect of dramatically increased electricity bills when the Maryland General Assembly's deregulation bill went into effect in 2000, opening the market to competition.

What happened: The Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce created an "Electricity Buying Co-operative." Owners of small- to medium-sized businesses sign up for the program, in which a consultant shops around to find the best electricity rate. Business owners then have the option of signing a contract.

The co-op reduces the burden on small-business owners to shop the market themselves, and signing a contract locks participants into the same rate for three years, which is a good value if market rates continue to increase.

What's next: The Chamber is accepting applications from businesses for a third round of the co-op program.

For Allegheny Energy residential customers, the current rate caps are set to expire on Dec. 31, 2008, and new market-driven rates will take effect Jan. 1, 2009, according to the Public Service Commission's Web site.

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