Choosing your energy service company

Consumers in the New York State Electric and Gas service area are again being asked to choose an energy service company to supply electricity to their homes.

Consumers are directed to choose and contract with the selected ESCO by Tuesday, Dec. 30, at 7 p.m. While this gives the impression consumers must choose an ESCO by this date or lose the opportunity to do so until the open enrollment period occurs again next year, the reality is that customers can choose to switch from NYSEG to an ESCO at any time during the year. But consumers who do not make a choice by this date will automatically be enrolled in the utilities variable price option (referred to by NYSEG as the Default Supply Option).

There are no guarantees variable pricing will always be less than fixed rate pricing. For three out of the last four years variable pricing has been less. But in 2005 hurricane Katrina hit the gulf area causing disruptions in energy deliveries. These disruptions caused the market rate for electricity to increase significantly for several months. A household that consumed 6,000 kWh of electricity in 2005 would have saved $47 with the fixed rate compared to the variable market rate.

Green power, electricity from renewable energy sources such as biomass, hydropower and wind, is not available from NYSEG. If you are interested in purchasing electricity generated from renewable energy, then you must choose an ESCO offering that option. For detailed information on green power visit www.askpsc.com and select the link "NY's Green Power Program."

When choosing between the fixed and variable rate options you are making a bet. You base your bet on what you think the year ahead will be like. If you think a natural or human caused event is likely to occur, that will affect electric supply markets, then you would choose the fixed price option as this option guarantees your electric rates will not change for the contract year no matter what happens in the market. But if you think energy markets will remain stable, or decrease over the next 12 months, you would choose the variable pricing option. If your prediction is correct, you will be rewarded with lower electric bills.

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