What is Energy Deregulation?
I’m in my thirties and I first heard about energy choice or energy deregulation just a few years ago. Having lived – and still living in – Florida, a state that has no energy choice, I’d never thought that being able to choose one’s own energy supplier was an option.
You can imagine my reaction – those lucky b&^#%@$s!
I’ve been paying Duke Energy for years and outside of a small demand response program I enrolled in, there isn’t much I could do to stop my electric bills from increasing year after year.
I was even more shocked to find out that many home and business owners in states that do offer energy choices, don’t know about it!
If you live in a deregulated energy state, when it comes to figuring out ways to reduce your energy costs, finding lower energy rates through a retail energy supplier is the best thing since sliced bread!
In a snapshot, energy choice gives you the option to shop for competitive energy rates through energy suppliers other than your local utility. Similar to how you’d shop for an internet provider or cell phone plan.
Energy choice gives you the option to find lower energy rates and plans that best fit your energy needs. Fixed-rate energy plans allow you to find competitive energy rates and secure them for an extended period of time.
How Does Energy Deregulation Work?
Sometimes having too many choices can throw you into confusion, or stir up questions and uncertainties.
I’ve written this article to help you better understand energy deregulation and how it works, as well as answer three of the most common questions you might have when looking for lower energy rates or choosing a new energy supplier.
If you’ve ever studied your electric bill you may have noticed that it was split up into two main types of charges:
1. Delivery or transmission charges
2. Supply or generation charges
Delivery charges constitute all the fees your utility company charges to deliver electricity or natural gas to your home or business. When you pay delivery charges, you pay for the physical infrastructure used to transfer energy from its source or storage place to you – the electrical wires, transformers, pipelines, and so on.
Supply charges are what you pay for the actual electricity or natural gas that you use.
I’ve included here a sample electric bill from the Philadelphia Electric Company, just to give you an idea of how these two charges show up. Every bill looks a little different but this gives you a general idea:
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In the case of electricity supply, electricity is sold at market price in units called kilowatt-hours or “KWH”. A kilowatt-hour is simply a unit used by your utility to measure how much electricity you use.
Let’s say that your business uses 5,000 kilowatt-hours every month, and each kilowatt-hour costs 10 cents. That means the supply or generation portion of your electric bill would be $500.
By default, your local utility company delivers your energy and supplies it. That means you pay whatever price or rate per kilowatt-hour that they charge. Most utilities post their rates once every 6 months, others post them monthly, and some utilities base your rates on how much energy you use and various other calculations. But most utilities have set rates that they post on their website.
If you live or own a business in a deregulated energy state, you have a choice. Meaning, you don’t have to buy your electricity and natural gas from your local utility, you can shop around and find lower energy rates through a retail energy supplier. Doing so will lower the supply or generation portion of your bill.
You’d still pay a delivery or transmission fee because your local utility company will still transfer the energy to you through their wires, transformers, and so on, but you’ll pay a lower rate for the supply – meaning the actual energy you use.
Let’s take my original example. If your business uses 5,000 KWH and you found a retail energy supplier that offered you a rate of 8 cents per KWH, you will see a 20% drop in the supply part of your electric bill, you’d be saving $125 each month.
Retail energy suppliers also offer fixed-rate plans. Choosing a fixed-rate plan will not only reduce the amount you pay for your energy, but it will protect you against the routine increases people usually see in their electricity bills year after year.
Answers to 3 Common Questions You Might Have About Energy Deregulation
1) Will I experience a delay or interruption of service when I switch?
No, you will not experience any delay.
Whatever retail energy supplier you choose is already fully connected to your utility. This means that when you choose a new energy supplier, you will not experience any change in power quality nor will you experience any delays or any interruptions in service.
2) Will switching to a new energy supplier change my billing?
When choosing a new energy supplier, your bill will still come from your local utility and will include both the supply and delivery charges, as well as a total for both that you will pay to your local utility.
Switching to a retail energy supplier does not usually change your billing cycle.
3) Where do I go to find lower energy rates?
When you start shopping for lower rates you will find many retail energy suppliers offer competitive rates and various kinds of plans. The lowest rate isn’t always the best one. Plans could come with restrictions and additional fees.
Yes, you could definitely Google and find various online platforms, but online platforms often don’t cater to business or a commercial account, and where they do they don’t always have the best rates.
That’s why we exist!
Not to toot my own horn, but energy consultants are the best way for you to find competitive energy rates. Additionally, we make navigating the seemingly complex system of energy shopping easy for you, ensuring you find the best plans that fit your energy needs.
If you have any other questions about how energy deregulation works, please don’t hesitate to call one of our licensed energy consultants.