Weekly Feature

2010-08-26 / Business

Improved website offers energy consumers ways to shop

The New York State Public Service Commission recently announced the redesign of its website to better provide consumers ways to competitively shop for electricity and natural gas suppliers.

Energy bills in New York consist of two parts: supply and delivery. The supply can be purchased from either a local electric or gas utility or another company. Meanwhile, the local utility will continue to provide delivery.

Currently, more than a million residential customers in New York are purchasing their electricity and natural gas from an energy service company.

“Providing consumers with the ability to compare prices and products being offered by companies that sell electricity and natural gas in their communities is an important goal,” Commission Chairman Garry Brown said. “To fully participate in the competitive energy marketplace requires consumers to have an understanding of how the marketplace works. This new and improved website provides the wherewithal for consumers to become better-informed about energy suppliers and services.”

There are many companies providing a wide variety of products and price options. Some provide long-term fixed prices, while others offer variable rates that change with market conditions. Some give the option for customers to have a fixed rate during certain peak months of energy use.

At the revamped website, found at www.newyorkpowerto choose.com, the consumer selects the choice that's best for their individual needs.

Before choosing a provider, the commission recommends consumers compare prices and services offered; review terms which may cover special fees, deposits, renewals and switching procedures; consider customer service features, including complaint handling, hours of operation, and toll-free numbers; and research the company's background.

According to the commission, consumers should always review the terms and conditions before committing to a company’s offer.

The commission’s website has been in existence since 2005. Changes made include allowing for real time offers and rates to be presented. The public can also search for offers in their zip code, compare offers, and save and print offers.

More than 60 energy-providing companies are now using the system.

In addition to the pricing information, the website contains contact information for many of the companies involved.

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