electricity shopping

While energy choice laws have been in effect for almost a decade in the New York City area, an alarming number of consumers are still unaware of their option to shop for competitive electricity and natural gas rates. The majority of citizens are still under the belief that they have to pay the energy rates offered by Con Edison, the local utility company. In truth, New York City consumers only have to pay the regulated delivery charges for energy to Con Edison, the supply component of their energy bills is open to customer choice. New York energy choice laws changed Con Edison from being the sole energy company in the New York City area, responsible for the delivery and generation supply of the energy, to only being responsible for the delivery and maintenance of the energy lines and wires.

On top of their delivery duties, Con Edison also provides a default rate for electricity supply to customers who do not choose to initiate in electricity shopping activity. Con Edison customers can find attractive rate plans offered by competitive electricity companies that will replace the default rate. The competitive electricity companies in New York are referred to as ESCOs, which stands for energy supply companies. ESCOs can offer customers rate plans that differentiate from the “one size fits all” default plan offered by Con Edison.

The Con Edison default electricity rate changes each month as it is variable and tied to market fluctuations. This volatility does not allow for ESCOs to market exact savings with their rate offerings as they are able to do in other state markets. In the neighboring states of New Jersey an Pennsylvania, utilities have default rates that last anywhere from three to eight months at a time. Electricity companies there can offer rates below the default rates and consumers can calculate exact savings. While this isn’t the exact case in New York, consumers can still lock in low Con Edison rates that are fixed and will offer price certainty during the term of the contract.

In addition to price, Con Edison customers can shop for plans that offer renewable energy as the source of power. ESCOs can purchase power generated from wind farms and sell it to retail customers so that there money is supporting renewable resources.

Consumers have a variety of options when shopping for competitive electricity in New York City. Getting this idea out has been difficult as people have become used to accepting whatever rate Con Edison imposes. The last migration data in New York was released at the end of 2015 which showed that only 23.6% of residential customers where purchasing their power from a competitive ESCO. Below are competitive offers from ESCOs who have been approved to sell power in the Con Edison service area.


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CL&P has posted a rate increase for their residential customers for the generations portion of their electric bill. The rate increase will take effect on July 1, 2014 and remain in tact through the end of the year. Connecticut Light and Power is the state’s largest electric utility providing power to more than 1.2 million customers. Electricity customers in Connecticut, through the Connecticut Energy Choice Act, have the ability to shop for competitive electric rates from alternative suppliers who are licensed by the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority.

In 2013, 43% of customers who receive their power from CL&P elected to purchase their power supply form a competitive electricity company. Due to low CL&P default rates, the number of participating electricity shoppers has steadily declined since 2012 reaching its current number at 39.9%. During this time it was difficult for competitive electricity companies to offer rates that were below the default price for electricity. When shopping for the lowest CL&P electricity prices, customers are encouraged to find a fixed rate below the default rate in order to ensure savings on their electric bill. With the CL&P default rate being the lowest fixed rate available during large stretches in 2012 and 2013 many consumers chose to go back onto default service instead of renewing their competitive plan.

Electricity shopping activity is expected to regain its growth due to the CL&P rate increase that will be taking place during the second half of 2014. Residential customers who are on the CL&P default rate will see the price they pay for generation service rise from $0.09235 to $0.0999 per KWH, which equates to a 8.2% increase. The rate increase also comes at a time when competitive electricity companies are seeing wholesale prices stabilize, allowing them to offer competitive electric rates below the default prices.

Below are competitive Connecticut electricity rates offered to CL&P customers. If the fixed rates are below the CL&P default rate the customer will save money on their monthly CL&P electric bill.


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On June 1, 2013 Pennsylvania Power & Light customers who have remained on the electric default rate got a significant rate increase that will show up when these consumers receive their electric bills in July. The PP&L price to compare rate jumped from 7.4 cents to 8.227 cents as calendar pages turned from May to June. PP&L electric rates have been very volatile since the start of Pennsylvania electricity choice. At times competitive rates have showed savings as high as 25% versus the PPL price to compare, while in recent months few competitive suppliers were able to offer savings versus the default price.

The PP&L price to compare is the default rate consumers pay for generation and transmission charges who do not shop for competitive power. The price changes every three months and is often very difficult to predict. Even when PP&L does post an estimated price to compare for the next three month period it has proved to not be an accurate forecast. The majority of PPL customers who have done an electricity switch and who are buying their power from an alternative supplier do so because of the savings they get at that specific time period. However, for more customers the benefits of electricity choice is becoming just as much about price security and certainty as the instant savings. Consumers who locked in fixed electric rates last fall to save money during that time may have been slightly disappointed when PPL announced a default rate reduction from March through May of this year. However now they are saving money once again when electric bills will be at a premium in the hot summer months. These customers do not have to be concerned with this PPL rate hike or the potential of another one in three months since they locked in a low fixed electricity rate.

As of May 29, 2013 over 527,000 residential PP&L electricity customers are purchasing their power from competitive energy companies. This number actually decreased slightly from the all time high achieved in March of 2013 due to the low PPL default rates over the last several months. With the recent rate hike in effect that number is expected to grow. With 42.8% of the residential class active in electricity shopping the idea of electric choice in Pennsylvania is no longer a foreign idea. The market has become once of the most competitive energy choice markets in the country with new suppliers entering almost every month offering low electricity prices and sometimes additional incentives.

Current competitive PP&L electricity prices can be found below.


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Electricity prices in Houston and its surrounding cities have dropped to low levels.  When Houston residences compare electric companies they can find fixed electric rates under 10 cents per kilowatt hour for up to twelve months or even lower electric rates for shorter terms.

Houston commercial electric rates are in the six cent per kilowatt hour range for one year terms.  Just two years ago many commercial electricity customers were signing fixed electric rate contracts above 10 cents.  Though current longer term contracts (24 and above) are a little higher than short term (12 months and under) rates, many businesses are signing longer term electricity contracts in order to protect themselves from the potential of rising electricity costs in the coming years.

The electricity market is unpredictable causing many commercial electricity customers to want to limit their risks by locking in the lowest electric rate they can for the longest period of time.  The alternative can be seeing their electric bills double in a very short time period.

Residential electric customers in Houston are taking the same strategy signing fixed electric rates for as long as electricity companies will allow, which is usually 24 months.

Here are the lowest electric rate offers that we found in the Houston area:

Centerpoint area –


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PPL Power Purchase Results for Default Customers

July 29, 2010

The PA Public Utility Commission posted the results for the fifth power purchase that PPL has made for its price to compare or default customers.  The new rates will go into effect on January 1, 2011.  One more auction remains before the final rates are established.  PPL now has secured about 80 percent of its […]

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