When electricity and natural gas deregulation legislation was fully implemented in 2004, very few options were available for chamber members to choose an alternate supplier. The Central Maryland Chamber (CMC, formerly the BWCC) established a purchasing cooperative based on the premise that the buying power of the group would result in long-term savings and budget stability to each participating member.

The approach worked, and today members are able to receive lower prices than they can receive on their own by participating in the cooperative buying program. The pricing is typically an all-in fixed price with no usage restrictions for a set contract period, usually 24 to 36 months in duration. Regulated utility delivery fees are not included and are set by rates published by the local utility.

The average chamber member’s annual savings, when compared to the utility standard offer service rate, as of the fall of 2017 is $2,150 per year. The overall annual savings of the group in 2017 is $487,400.

The fall enrollment campaign has secured rates for contracts through to 2020, which will increase the savings when compared to the members’ prior contracts to $2,450 per year. The reduction in cost helps offset the cost of chamber membership, which is an added benefit from participation.

Similar results are reported for members who have natural gas accounts in spite of record low market rates in 2017. Members participating in the natural gas cooperative are looking more for budget stability during the winter heating season. Cooperative members were able to avoid the “winter vortex” price increases in 2015 by being on a fixed rated contract through the cooperative.

The cooperative consultant, CQI Associates, professionally manages the procurement program and has 23 years of industry experience in Maryland. The firm is licensed by the Maryland Public Service Commission to represent buyers in what has become an increasing complex procurement process. The chamber and CQI Associates conduct competitive bids to multiple suppliers to seek the best price and contract term for the participating members, unlike other programs where the members have only one supplier option.

Learn how your business and home can benefit from joining the Energy Purchasing Cooperative by calling the Central Maryland Chamber at 410-672-3422 or by email to Nancy LaJoice at [email protected].