Alternate Utility Companies (part 2 – electric)

Finding an Alternate Electric Supplier

Lightning strike at night over a city

There’s good news and bad news for those searching for an alternate electric supplier, depending on the state where you reside. The map below is similar to that shown for alternate gas suppliers; click on the state that’s of interest and it will enlarge, giving a bit more information about whether there are alternatives available for you there. If you click on the enlarged state, you’ll be whisked off to a new page which gives you still more information – and (if available) a list of alternate electric suppliers.

Many states don’t offer alternate electric suppliers; in other words, they haven’t unbundled their electric service. Their reluctance to unbundle was caused by artificial shortages brought about by deregulation, shortages caused in part by large corporations using underhanded tactics. Those shortages led to widespread rolling blackouts and brownouts which affected millions of residential and commercial customers. Regulators in many other states carefully studied those failed deregulation efforts, and successfully provided the benefits of deregulation in their own states – forearmed with the hindsight provided by those failed efforts.

Don’t limit your research to the information provided by the map, however. A lot of the heavy lifting has been done for you by providing lists of available electric companies in various states, but things change. If the map indicates electric suppliers have not been deregulated in your area, double check with your state’s regulatory agency to verify that information.

Alternate Electric Suppliers

There are also alternatives available for those living in Washington, D.C. (the list begins on page 7 of the linked pdf file).

You should do some additional research, even if the map provides you with a list of alternate electric suppliers for your house or business at competitive rates. Regulations could change, out of state companies may branch out into your area, or an existing company that previously provided only commercial service may begin servicing residential accounts in your area.

If your state has deregulated electric suppliers and they provide service to your market sector (residential, commercial, municipal, etc), you need to compare apples to apples when looking at their rates. In other words, will their rates reduce your bill relative to your existing supplier? Make sure you compare the cost of the electricity being furnished by each company – and not the delivery charge, regulatory fees, or other unrelated charges on your bill.

Note that if you should pursue a new account with an alternate gas supplier, you won’t need new wires to your house or business, nor will you need a new meter. Your existing wires and meter will be used to deliver electricity from your new supplier. There’s no free lunch though – you’ll still have to pay your existing electric supplier to use their existing wires and meter. You may get a second utility bill on top of the one you’re accustomed to getting from your existing  supplier: one for the wiring and meter from your existing electric supplier, and a second bill for the electricity you’ve used. Alternately, the new supplier or your existing supplier may send a single bill each month, consolidating fees in the background.

Go back to part 1 – alternate natural gas suppliers.

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