Customer Choice

Under customer choice, electricity suppliers other than SMECO may offer to sell you electricity. The Co-op will continue to distribute the power and to maintain and service the electric lines. SMECO will still read the meter and bill you for electric distribution service. SMECO will also provide electricity to customers who do not wish to choose another supplier. Rates for this supply, known as Standard Offer Service, are regulated by the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC).

The Basics

Most customers in Maryland have the power to choose their energy supplier for their electricity. Below is a brief introduction to customer choice.

What Is Customer Choice?

Customer choice allows Marylanders to choose the supplier of their electric power. This process is also called deregulation or restructuring. In Maryland, customer choice for many consumers began in July 2000. Customer choice means companies other than your local utility compete to sell you electricity.

SMECO only sells electricity to customers in its service area. If you live outside SMECO’s service area, you cannot purchase electricity from SMECO.

Your electric bill is divided into sections that show how each charge is calculated to help you compare costs for electric supply.

Who Provides Electric Service?

Your local utility continues to deliver your power. The transmission of electricity over long distances and the distribution of power to your home or business are regulated by the Maryland PSC to ensure that the reliability of your service will not be affected.

Though you may choose another power supplier, the lines and equipment serving your home or business do not change. Your local utility maintains this equipment and responds to your call for service.

Do I Have to Choose Another Supplier?

No. For those who wish not to choose — or in the event that a supplier fails to deliver power — a “standard offer service” is available. Standard offer service (SOS) is provided by your local utility.

Are Consumers Protected?

Maryland’s customer choice law contains a variety of consumer protections against fraud, deceptive practices, and unfair discrimination. The law authorizes the PSC to license all power suppliers. If violations occur, the PSC may also punish or revoke the license of suppliers. Customer information cannot be disclosed without customer consent except for bill collection and credit rating purposes.

For more information on Maryland’s customer choice law, visit our Fact Sheet on Electric Industry Restructuring.

Consumer Education

The state of Maryland has resources available to help consumers learn about customer choice. You can look up electricity suppliers in SMECO’s service area and find basics about shopping for suppliers.

For information on choice-related topics and programs, you may visit the Maryland state website. Residential consumer protection issues or complaints may be directed to the Maryland Office of People’s Counsel at (800) 207-4055 or via their Office of People’s Council website.

Standard Offer Service

  • SMECO’s Standard Offer Service (SOS) rate is the cost you pay for power. SMECO provides electricity to members at cost, with no markup
  • SMECO does not generate electricity; the Co-op purchases power on behalf of its members
  • SMECO is a non-profit cooperative, committed to delivering electricity at the lowest possible price

You pay only for the energy you use. On your monthly SMECO bill look under “Standard Offer Service” to see the amount you pay for energy.

Residential Standard Offer Service Rates

On your bill, the Energy Charge is the base SOS rate.

Season Energy Charge (per kilowatt-hour (kWh))
Summer (5 months) May through September $0.0949
Winter (7 months) October through April $0.0931
Average annual base SOS rate $0.0939

The total SOS rate includes the Power Cost Adjustment (PCA). The PCA is sometimes a charge and sometimes a credit. Add the base SOS rate with the PCA to get the total SOS rate (your price to compare for electricity supply). 9.31 + 0.0034 = 9.3134 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

For March 2023

Base SOS Rate (energy charge) PCA (charge for March) Total SOS Rate (price to compare)
$0.0931 $0.000034 $0.093134

Comparing Prices

SMECO’s Price to Compare is made up of the SOS Energy Charge and the Power Cost Adjustment.

When comparing prices for energy supply, do not use your total bill because it includes distribution service charges and regulatory, state, and local taxes. SMECO will bill you for these items whether you purchase power from SMECO or another power supplier.

To compare rates, it will be helpful to know the amount of energy you use. That information is printed on your monthly bill. Use the Price to Compare and your monthly usage to see how your current price for electric supply compares with the prices offered by other suppliers.

Price to Compare Calculator

Use the calculator below to estimate your energy charges, based on the rates in effect as of March 1, 2023.

The amounts shown are to help you compare electric supply prices. They do not represent your total SMECO bill. The calculator is intended to be used for illustration purposes only. SMECO is not responsible for any errors that may result from using this calculator.

Examples of Costs for Different Customers

The tables below show SMECO’s current rates. Remember, your electric bill is based on the amount of energy you use. Some customers use more, some use less.


Price to Compare – Total SOS Rate – $0.093134

Monthly kWh Usage March 2023
1,000 $93.13
1,200 $111.76
1,500 $139.70

General Service Non-Demand – Commercial

Price to Compare – Total SOS Rate – $0.088965

Monthly kWh Usage March 2023
1,500 $133.45

General Service Demand – Commercial

Price to Compare – Total SOS Rate – $0.085764

The Price to Compare is based on 50 kW and 18,500 kWh, which is the average usage for General Service Demand customers.

The rate per kWh is a tiered rate which changes based on usage (kWh) and demand (kW).

Bill Examples:

Monthly kWh Usage Monthly kWh Demand March 2023
18,500 50 $1,586.63
385,000 750 31,447.17


Customers who choose an alternate supplier will receive a single bill from SMECO that includes charges from SMECO and the alternate supplier.