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Energy Choice | January 27, 2011

Tips for comparing your electric supply options

Recently, the Philadelphia Inquirer published an article about how some residents in New Jersey have been feeling overwhelmed by the many options now available for home electricity supply. With offers providing price certainty and savings, electric choice can be exciting so exploring your options shouldn’t be stressful.

That’s why I wanted to share some tips that I’ve pulled together from Texas and New York, two states that were recently identified as having successfully implemented residential electricity choice programs by two industry-leading reports (the COMPETE Coalition’s study, “Customer Choice in Electricity Markets: From Novel to Normal” and the Annual Baseline Assessment of Choice in Canada and the United States [ABACCUS] report).

While every state handles their electricity pricing and regulations differently, here are some quick pointers that may help residents in states offering electric choice to consider a new electricity supply option, regardless of the state that a resident lives in.

Specific criteria were outlined by both the Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC) and the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) in the comparison tables that they provide their state residents on their respective websites. You can use the categories they have outlined to create a basic comparison table of your own to examine electricity offers:

  • Name of the retail electric provider
  • Plan type (does it include a fixed price, a variable price, or both)
  • The electricity generation or supply price that the provider proposes per kWh
  • Term of the plan (broken down by months)
  • Any available promotions or incentives for signing up
  • If there is a termination fee associated with canceling early
  • And if there is a renewable energy component (and if so, what percentage)

You may also want to add a column for the price that your utility is charging for electricity generation services. To calculate possible monthly savings, it will depend on the charges that your utility includes in your monthly bill as well as your month by month usage. For more information regarding the charges included in your monthly bill, you can contact your local utility or you may be able to find more details on the retail electric supplier’s website. We provide prospective customers in New Jersey with an online savings calculator that estimates average monthly savings through May 2011.

In addition to gathering the data mentioned above, similar to what we recommend on our residential website, the Texas PUC’s Power to Choose website (www.powertochoose.com) and the New York State PSC (www.newyorkpowertochoose.com) recommends that you closely review the contracts and terms and the type of prices being offered to you (for example, is the price fixed, variable, indexed, or a combination?). If you’re interested in energy efficiency or renewable options, you may want to explore whether these options are available from the competitive electric supplier and if there are federal, state, and local incentives (see more about this here) for these products and services.

Stay tuned for additional tips for approaching electric choice. Please feel free to leave me a comment with any questions you may have. You never know, your question might end up being featured on a future post on this blog!

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