Energy Choice | June 10, 2016

How to Switch Electricity Companies

Not so long ago, each household would deal with just one utility company. The electricity and natural gas arrived in your home; the utility set the price with oversight by the state government’s regulatory agency; you paid the bill. Today, consumers have more options. It’s called Energy Choice, which means that consumers can switch energy providers if they choose to do so. Available in 17 states and counting, Energy Choice started in the ‘70s when lawmakers began changing regulations so that energy companies could also offer natural gas and electricity to consumers. It opened up the competitive marketplace.

Now consumers in Energy Choice states considering changing their electric provider can look for the best pricing, which in turn might help them lower energy costs. Improved customer service is another potential upside when consumers switch. Power company executives know that customer service is more important now than ever, so they’re always working to improve your experience. The challenge is understanding how to switch energy providers. To help you navigate this energy world, we’re focusing on one thing first: Making the change. Electric provider, gas provider—there are plenty of nuances, but we’re going to help you make an informed decision. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions.

What points should I consider before I switch electric companies?

  1. Look at your energy bill. Look at the supply line on your bill and notice how much you’ve been using and paying for the past few months. This will give you a starting point as you begin to review other pricing options with other companies.
  2. Do some research. Is the competitive supplier you’re considering well-established? Is the supplier licensed to serve your state? Look online and on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter for customer reviews. Are customers generally satisfied with this provider?
  3. Review pricing plans carefully, as well as terms and conditions of any plan you’re considering. Check to see if the price includes a state sales tax or any other tax, charge or fee.

Is there a penalty if I switch energy providers?

If you do not have an existing contract, there is usually not an early termination fee if you switch your energy provider. Be sure to carefully read the terms of your agreement before signing on to a new plan, however, to ensure you’re protected. One exception, for instance, might be if you originally signed up for a pricing plan of a certain length. Bottom line? Confirm with your current energy provider before you switch electric companies.

If I sign up with a new electricity company, when will the switch occur?

You can switch electric companies assuming Energy Choice is available in your state. Typically you will receive confirmation from your local utility confirming the switch. The switch should happen fairly quickly after that. In Texas, for instance, consumers choosing to change electric providers receive mail confirmation from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) about the pending change. Depending on where you live, you have from between 3-14 business days to change your mind after the initial switch has occurred.

Will there be a lapse in service when I switch power company services?

You should not have a lapse in service when you switch power company services. In most places, the utility will still continue to send your bills, but you will notice the new electricity company’s name listed on the supply line at your next regularly scheduled billing cycle.

Do I have to tell my current electricity company I’m switching?

Fortunately, there are not too many logistics when you’re figuring out how to switch energy providers. Usually the new provider will notify your utility that you are going to switch electricity companies. You should receive confirmation from your power company that the switch has occurred.

Who do I call if I have an outage?

If you lose electricity, call your local utility. If you see downed power lines, call 911 before contacting your power company. Down power lines? Call 911 For more information on how to switch energy providers, visit our Energy 101 page.

Comments ( 2 )

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Tarzan - 7/15/2016

This message is ridiculous because it tells us that energy choice is available in 17 states but nowhere tells us what states those are. So in 33 states, this message is wasting the reader’s time. Hugely inconsiderate of those who read this.

    Constellation Community Team - 10/11/2016

    Hi, there. I can understand your frustration, for sure. The reason why we didn’t specify which states have energy deregulation is because the numbers are changing all the time as the laws change. More and more states are becoming deregulated all the time, so it’s important for a consumer to have the most up-to-date information. As well, some states are deregulated for either natural gas *or* electricity, but not both, which makes it even trickier to break out. You can check your state’s energy deregulation status here: http://competitiveenergy.org/consumer-tools/state-by-state-links/. Thank you for asking!

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