Energy Choice: The Power to Pick Your Energy Supplier
Not long ago, people didn't have many choices when it came to getting energy. Most of the time, they had to rely on their local utility company and its supplier. They didn't have much say in the matter. They needed electricity, and that was that, regardless of the cost.
Then came the Energy Policy Act of 1992. Electric rates would never be the same.
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What is Energy Choice?
The Energy Policy Act of 1992’s goal was to support energy efficiency, promote the use of renewable and sustainable energy sources, and stimulate the development of alternative fuels. It also wanted to empower consumers by allowing them to research and compare energy options and then choose their energy supplier, whether it was for electricity, natural gas, or both.
Key highlights of this groundbreaking law include:
- Creating energy efficiency standards for various household appliances and equipment.
- Making grants and loans available through the Department of Energy to fund research, development, and projects related to renewable and sustainable energy.
- Advocating the use of alternative fuels as a cleaner and more sustainable energy option.
- Encouraging competition within the wholesale electricity market, providing guidelines for restructuring utility rates, and supporting the growth of independent power production.
This legislation not only increased competition in the energy sector but also addressed rising electricity costs in several states, like Ohio and Pennsylvania. These states, along with more than a dozen others, took significant steps to introduce competition in the energy market. The benefits are still felt today.
Why does Energy Choice matter?
Today, in more than a dozen states, customers can shop, compare, and switch energy suppliers and choose the best Energy Choice program that works for them. This newfound competition empowers consumers to explore various options, like fixed rates and longer-term contracts, granting them control over seasonal rate fluctuations.
Competition goes beyond encouraging lower prices. It drives innovation and encourages suppliers to invest in new technologies and products. It also promotes economic growth, as new companies enter the industry, compete for market share, and create new jobs to help produce and deliver energy.
Moreover, as more competitive companies let consumers to choose their energy supply, Energy Choice can have a significant effect on global sustainability goals. Some suppliers, like Energy Harbor, offer eco-conscious, carbon-free plans that help reduce or eliminate greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), supporting the global shift toward cleaner energy.
How your utility company and energy supplier work together
To better understand what it means to choose your energy supplier, it’s important to know how energy reaches your home or business. It happens through the interconnected work of three types of energy companies – generation companies, suppliers, and utility companies. Some, like Energy Harbor, are both an electric generation company and electric supplier.
- Generation companies produce electricity via several methods, which include sustainable and clean energy sources like nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, solar, and others. They’re also responsible for power plant infrastructure and maintenance.
- Suppliers, sometimes known as electric generation suppliers (EGS), buy energy wholesale from generation companies and sell it to consumers. Suppliers also shop and compare, then pass savings along to customers, who can choose their electric supplier.
- Utility companies manage local distribution systems that deliver energy to homes and businesses. They maintain the grid, which encompasses energy infrastructure, including power lines, transformers, substations, and other components responsible for distributing electricity within their area.
Once you have found the right energy supplier and a suitable natural gas or electricity plan, making the switch to the new provider is simple. In fact, your new supplier will help manage the entire process with your utility company. Both the supplier and utility want to ensure the transition is seamless and without electric service disruption. And if you have any questions, your utility’s customer service department can point you in the right direction.
The actual transfer from one supplier to the other may take up to 45 days to complete, depending on the state you live and your utility. After you’ve made the switch, check your next electricity bill – and the one after that – to confirm that your new supplier is active.
Is Energy Choice available to me?
Only 18 states and the District of Columbia enjoy some form of energy deregulation. Energy Harbor offers clean-energy plans to consumers in six of those 18 states, including:
Illinois residents have enjoyed the option to compare and switch electricity plans since 2008, but the Prairie State embraced energy deregulation in 1997. Business customers had the ability to compare and switch first, taking advantage of this new, competitive energy market.
For Maryland, Energy Choice was adopted when the Electric Customer Choice and Competition Act of 1999 was passed. Consumers and businesses alike were empowered to shop, compare, and switch electricity suppliers.
Energy Choice was introduced in Michigan with the passage of the Michigan Electric Restructuring Act in 2000.
New Jersey deregulated its electricity market in 1999 through the Electric Discount and Energy Competition Act, giving residents greater control over energy costs and the ability to shop NJ electric companies.
Energy Choice in Ohio is a freedom Ohioans have enjoyed for more than 20 years after the state passed Senate Bill 3 in 1999, deregulating Ohio’s electricity and natural gas market.
The Keystone State deregulated its electricity market in 1996 with the Electricity Generation Customer Choice and Competition Act, giving residents of PA Energy Choice.
The other 12 states that enjoy Energy Choice include Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, California, and the District of Columbia.