Most common distribution network and generation is done with 3 phase structures, with special attention paid to the phase balancing and resulting reduction of ground current. It is true for industrial or commercial networks where most power is used in 3 phase machines, but light commercial and residential users do not have real-time phase balancing capabilities. Often this issue leads to unexpected equipment behavior or malfunctions and in extreme cases fires. For example, sensitive professional analogue or digital recording equipment must be connected to well-balanced and grounded power networks. To determine and mitigate the cost of the unbalanced electricity network, electric companies in most cases charge by demand or as a separate category for heavy unbalanced loads. A few simple techniques are available for balancing that require fast computing and real-time modeling.
Utilities, or energy companies, in Maryland offer customers information to know how much they are spending on electric supply each month. Baltimore Gas & Electric Co., for example, provides a tool known as the Standard Offer Service, which shows customers how much they can expect to pay for energy supply each month. Current supply rates show that BGE customers will pay 8.225 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). ChooseEnergy.com, as of mid-May, offers a 36-month plan that could save 13 percent on that rate now.
Aside from times of natural disasters and large-scale accidents, electricity prices tend to be steadily dictated by electricity demand. Typically, the price of electricity rises when demand rises. In turn, the lower demand is, the cheaper electricity rates become. This pattern is due to the fact that increased demand requires increased energy production. When extra energy is demanded, utilities are forced to use alternative sources of energy production that may cost more to operate. For example, when electricity demand reaches a high point in Texas, coal plants are used alongside the typical natural gas plants. These coal plants are costlier and less effective than natural gas plants, but are necessary to meet high electricity demand levels.