The Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) has initiated a proceeding that could impose new regulatory requirements on certain demand response providers—entities that help consumers earn payments for reducing electricity consumption, particularly during shortages.

A request from its Technical Staff prompted the PSC to issue an order on August 23, 2010, initiating the proceeding. Requests to intervene in the proceeding (Case No. 9241) are due September 2, 2010, with initial comments due September 30 and reply comments October 22.

The proceeding centers on whether these providers, referred to in the order as Curtailment Service Providers, are required to obtain licenses to operate in Maryland as electricity suppliers. Electricity supply service generally has been seen as involving or being related to the sale of electricity, not the reduction of electricity consumption. If the PSC determines that Curtailment Service Providers provide a type of "electricity supply service," registration could be required.

The Maryland Code does not define "Curtailment Service Provider." But it is the term the region’s independent transmission operator, PJM Interconnection, uses to refer to its members that facilitate participation in its demand response programs on behalf of electricity consumers. It is possible, but unclear at this point, whether the PSC will ultimately limit its consideration to entities that currently participate in the PJM markets as Curtailment Service Providers.