With the sizzling temperatures we have experienced this summer, high electric bills may be in store for most of us.

At the same time, our mailboxes are full of confusing offers from various companies to lower our monthly utility bills by purchasing electricity from them, instead of our current supplier.

I recently met with Amy Kurt, Director of Public Affairs for the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, in an effort to better understand these offers. I encourage you to visit their website, www.pickocc.org to obtain their excellent fact sheet that compares specific offers from one company to another. 

It is important to understand that there are several components to your bill and that only SOME parts can be negotiated by a different supplier. Look at your latest bill--the price to compare is the amount another supplier would have to beat in order for you to save on the cost of your electric bill. This includes the cost of electric generation, transmission, and some miscellaneous charges. It does NOT include distribution costs, which you will continue to pay to your utility company, even if you choose a competitive supplier.

I quote from the fact sheet cited above:

"Customers should remember that the price to compare varies from utility to utility, and month to month, based on electricity used. Review previous bills to determine what the average price-to-compare may be, and if there are savings by switching to a competitive supplier for the term of the contract being considered."

In reviewing these offers, it is important to understand some of the terms used:

• FIXED RATE- this is a set price per kilowatt hour that will not change during the term of the contract.
• VARIABLE RATE- the rate described above can vary based upon certain conditions during the term of the contract. You should ask the supplier how often the rate is subject to change and what will cause such a change.
• PERCENTAGE OFF THE PRICE TO COMPARE- this deal offers a discount off the price to compare printed on your bill. Remember that the actual price could vary with changes in the wholesale price of electricity.
• HYBRID OFFERS- these offers have different rates to reflect seasonal changes, and may have a fixed rate for some months and a variable rate for other months.
• INCENTIVE OFFERS- these offers may include a certain month for free, or a rebate at the end of the contract term.

Here are some other things to consider when comparing these electric-supplier offers:

1) All electric-choice suppliers must be certified. Go to the website cited above for this list;
2) OCC's Electric Choice Information web page continues to update its information about these offers. Check this web page often;
3) Know what questions to ask about the offer. The website has a fact sheet titled, "Electric Choice 101;
4) If you do switch electric generation suppliers, notification will be provided to you and to your electric utility. Under law, you have seven days from the date postmarked on the notification to cancel with no penalty;
5) If you do return to your local utility, you could be charged a fee in addition to early cancellation fees by the supplier;
6) Beware of automatic renewal provisions. The renewal rate could be higher than the original rate you signed up for;
7) DO NOT GIVE OUT YOUR BILL OR ACCOUNT NUMBER. This could allow someone to enroll you in services you did not intend to purchase.

I hope that this has been of help. Please contact the Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel for specific answers to an offer that you are considering. Amy, and her staff, are there to help you.


Beauty_me2012 said...

The attractiveness of these constructions still holds these days, as seen in numerous modern day infrastructures.


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