CAROLINE CO., Md. - When Jennifer Neithercott opened her power bill last month, she was more than shocked to see owed $833.99 says Jenn "that's ridiculous."
The Caroline County wife and mother switched to IDT Energy last April, hoping to save money with a third party energy provider.
"The way it was described to me was 'we can shop the market, we don't have the fixed rate'," says Neithercott.
She wasn't alone in making the switch to a variable rate system. As of last July, more than 28 percent of customers at Maryland's four largest electric utilities were buying from third party suppliers. But with one of the coldest winters in recent years, that variable rate has done anything but save them money.
For the Neithercott's, IDT Energy went from charging nine cents per kilowatt hour to nineteen cents per kilowatt hour on their last bill.
"You're like 'whoa what happened?' My high bills before were at most $350."
In a statement, IDT tells WMDT what the company was paying for energy "...spiked from the normalized range of less than $50 per megawatt per hour to over $400 as a result of the unexpected demand surge associated with the winter vortex."
Jenn has since canceled with IDT and switched back to Delmarva Power, and warns other customers thinking about a change.
"Pay attention to contracts," warns Jenn, "looking back at what I've been charged all along and not seeing it, I feel so silly."
An IDT spokesperson says over the long run, customers can expect to see their rates compare a bit better with local utility and fixed rate providers.
The Maryland Public Service Commission is reminding customers to really take a look at their contracts and contact their suppliers with any questions before issues pop up.
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