However, the oil embargos of the 70s and shifts in public policy made legislators choose to insert competitive forces into the markets. In some places, like California, it was nothing short of a disaster. But experts paid attention to the challenges in California to adapt in their own markets. Now, many states enjoy the benefits of deregulation with lower prices and more choices including 100 % renewable energy sources.
The first step is shopping around; now that more companies can enter the market we are sure to finds options and plan that fit your consumption profile more accurately, thus transferring into direct savings. Click here to get a free quote for your area.
The New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) opened the State’s electric and natural gas industries to competition. Changes in both of these markets have provided an opportunity for consumers to choose their supplier of electricity and/or natural gas.
The PSC approved utility plans and implemented procedures that give electric and natural gas customers access to energy suppliers known as energy service companies, or “ESCOs.” The plans require the utilities to offer retail choice to customers who want to shop for electricity and natural gas and other related services or products. The delivery of electricity and natural gas to homes and businesses, however, will remain the job of the local utility and continue to be regulated by the PSC.
- An ESCO is an entity eligible to sell electricity and/or natural gas to customer using the transmission or distribution system of a utility.
- The NYS Department of Public Service (DPS) requires ESCOs to complete an application process before serving customers.
All distribution services will still be handled by your current utility, which means you must still call them in the event of an interruption of service or emergency. If you so choose, you can remain with your current utility and continue paying them for your power and/or gas.
Do I have any protections from ESCOs?
Yes, the PSC requires a few basic customer protections.
- A statement disclosing the ESCO’s complaint resolution process.
- A 15-day notice before discontinuing service.
- Customer choice of service from another ESCO or the utility when an ESCO discontinues service.
- Clear procedures for switching suppliers.
- Convenient complaint handling.
ESCO’s serving residential customers must comply with the Home Energy Fair Practices Act (HEFPA) and PSC order regarding payment allocation methods.
In additions ESCOs must comply with specific requirements of the New York State General Business Law and the PSC’s Uniform Business Practices when marketing energy services to residential customers and/or through door-to-door sales and when enrolling customers.
ESCOs must provide residential customers and customers marketed to via door-to-door sales with an ESCO Consumers Bill of Rights, which identifies an ESCO customers rights.
You may contact the PSC to register a complaint about an ESCO. Upon receipt, the PSC will forward the complaint to the ESCO for resolution. The PSC has the authority to revoke an ESCO’s eligibility to do business if an excessive number of legitimate complaints against the ESCO are received.
We’re glad you asked.
If you choose an ESCO, you may receive two bills: one bill from the ESCO for electricity and/or natural gas supply and other products it sells to you, and one from the utility for transmission and delivery charges. Other options are possible — the utility may bill you on behalf of the ESCO and include the ESCO’s charges in its bill, or the ESCO may bill you on behalf of the utility and include the utility’s charges in the ESCO’s bill.
Regardless, you will always have access to your usage and billing history, and that information can only be released by the utility with your permission.
So even though I’m paying someone else for my power and/or gas, my same utility will take care of the pipes and lines?
Exactly, as we said before the utility is still responsible of the safety and reliability of the delivery system. Maintain or service the system in the event of a storm and such. They will also ensure your service is not discontinued in the event of an ESCO going out of business or your choosing a new provider.
Learn more about state regulation on competitive energy markets and ESCO here.