Pictured above from left: County Executive Isiah Leggett, Congressman Chris Van Hollen
and Council Vice President Roger Berliner
In 2008, Council Vice President
Roger Berliner was the lead sponsor of seven environmental bills that the County Executive and the County Council enacted which combined to form one of the nation's foremost global warming programs by a County government.
Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett also established a County Sustainability Working Group which developed a Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. The climate action plan includes 58 actionable recommendations covering seven areas: renewable energy; residential building energy efficiency; commercial, multi-family and public building energy efficiency; transportation; forestry and agriculture; long-term planning and education and outreach.
In addition to enforcing consumer protection laws prohibiting unfair and deceptive business acts and practices, OCP has two specific roles in the area of Energy and Environmental Advocacy:
The information on these pages is designed to provide information regarding these two new mandates. Please see the other categories under "Energy and Environmental Advocacy" on the left menu bar.
Click here for a copy of our Energy and Environmental Advocacy Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2010.
Before signing a contract for the sale of a home, the Seller must provide the Buyer with:
The Energy and Environmental Advocacy Bill authorizes OCP to advocate for the County's interest in obtaining the lowest possible rates consistent with environmental stewardship for gas, electricity, and other energy sources. OCP reviews the extensive docket maintained by the Public Service Commission (PSC) to identify those cases in which our actions in intervening and providing testimony would be the most effective and productive.
OCP has participated in the following cases before the PSC in a variety of ways including providing written or oral testimony, attending hearings, and participating in work groups:
(Click on the case link below to view OCP's action)
1. To Which Types of Property Does the Utility Bill Disclosure Law Apply?
The law applies to owner-occupied single family homes and condominiums that are individually metered by electrical or natural gas utilities.
2. What Does the Utility Bill Disclosure Law Require of the Seller?
A. Before signing a contract for a home:
The SELLER must provide the buyer with information, approved by the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, to assist home buyers in making energy-conservation decisions. This information includes:
The benefits of home energy audits, such as information on the Maryland Home Performance program
Energy-efficiency improvements (e.g., insulation, home sealing, heating and cooling, lighting energy-efficiency, and financing options)
B. The SELLER must provide copies of applicable electrical, gas, and/or home heating oil bills, or a cost and usage history for the 12 months immediately prior to the sale of the single-family home. If the home was occupied for less than 12 months prior to the sale, the seller must provide the buyer with the required information for any part of the 12 months, if any, that the home was occupied.
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3. How Often Must Seller Update the Utility Disclosure Information?
It is recommended that the seller compile the information at the time the property is listed for sale. The information then may only be updated every 6 months that the home is on the market
4. What Does the Current Law Not Require?
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5. Where can I get Disclosure Forms and Energy-Efficiency Information?
The Department of Environmental Protection worked with the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors (GCAAR) to develop a form for sellers to record and disclose energy cost and history information in a uniform and easy to read format. You can obtain this form by contacting GCAAR. Alternatively, a seller may provide the buyer with a 12 month usage history (see Utility Company contact information). DEP and GCAAR also developed a webpage listing key information on energy audits, energy-efficiency information, financing and other information to help prospective homeowners understand what opportunities are available.
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6. Who do I contact if my utility bill is higher than expected?
The Public Service Commission (PSC), the agency that regulates utilities, has a brochure on their website specifically regarding unusually high utility bills. The PSC advises that "[i]f you don't understand your bill, please call your utility or consult its web site first – they have helpful information on how to read and interpret it." We have contact information for each utility company on our Resources page.
There is also information on the PSC's website advising "if you think your bill is wrong and you want to dispute it, you must first contact your utility or supplier to try to resolve the problem before calling the PSC." The company is required by law to investigate your inquiry and provide you with an oral or written response. You should keep a record of the names, telephone numbers, and dates of all conversations you have with the company's representatives. If you are unable to resolve your dispute, it may be helpful for you to speak with a utility supervisor. If you still disagree after speaking with the company, you may submit your dispute in writing to the PSC within 7 days of receiving the utility's final answer (through mail or online) or call the PSC Office of External Relations at 410-767-8028."
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7. Where do I find information on incentives available for home energy-efficiency and renewable energy projects?
Visit the Department of Environmental Protection's web page, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Incentives, for more information.
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8. Where do I find information on choosing a new electricity or gas supplier?
The Maryland Office of the People's Counsel has information about choosing an electricity or gas supplier on their website at http://www.opc.state.md.us/ConsumerCorner/RetailSuppliers.aspxincluding a guide "Contracting for Electricity and Natural Gas Supply" ( http://www.opc.state.md.us/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=8CUS-ysv3TU%3d&tabid=71). All gas and electricity suppliers must be licensed by the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) ( http://webapp.psc.state.md.us/Intranet/home.cfm).
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|RESOURCE NAME||DESCRIPTION OF HELP PROVIDED|
|ENERGY STAR||Provides consumers information on Energy Star products, and Home Energy Audits|
|Maryland Energy Administration||Provides consumers with an Energy Savings Calculator, information on Home Energy Efficiency, and Money Saving Tips|
|Maryland Office of the People’s Counsel||Regulates utility companies doing business in Maryland. Handles consumer complaints for Maryland residents.|
|Montgomery County Dept. of Environmental Protection||Resources for Home Energy Efficiency, Information on Heating Your Home, and Incentives|
|U.S. Environmental Protection Agency||Provides information on how to request energy usage and cost information from local utility companies|
Bill # 31-07 - Real Property - Energy Performance Audits
Bill # 35-07 - Consumer Protection - Energy and Environmental Advocacy
|County Energy and Environmental Laws involving the Office of Consumer Protection|
Bill # 29-07 - Environmental Sustainability - Climate Protection - Motor Vehicles
Bill # 30-07 - Buildings - Energy Efficiency
Bill # 32-07 - Environmental Sustainability - Climate Protection plan
Bill # 33-07 - Renewable Energy
Bill # 34-07 - Planning Procedures - Greenhouse Gas Emissions
|Other Energy and Environmental Advocacy County Laws|