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Alternate Energy Providers
Old 06-10-2015, 09:39 AM   #1
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Alternate Energy Providers

Do you have the option to choose an alternate energy provider for gas or electricity? Have you made the choice?
We have the option for electric, but having the lowest rate through the unitary government in our home, (lowest in the state) there is no reason to sign on.
At the same time, our campground, which receives electricity from Commonwealth Edison, made the choice to go to an alternate provider... believing that the rates would be lower. That was a year ago. Our recent campground newspaper now is revealing that the new contract is now costing more than before.

I haven't dug into this yet, but hope that some of our members can shed light by sharing their experience.

Here's an article that reviews the subject:

Why Switching to an Alternative Energy Provider Could Cost You Big If You're Not Careful | Alternet

If you're not sure whether you can have a choice, here's an interactive map of the states where the choice is eligible.
State-by-State Information | ACCES – American Coalition Of Competitive Energy Suppliers
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Old 06-10-2015, 10:07 AM   #2
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I am of the opinion that if you want to pay more for alternate energy source it is your choice. Don't make gov't mandates to force people to do it. I am intensely against gov't forcing options that are not cost effective.

My experience with these options is you pay more for it. If you feel better doing it, that is your choice. Just do not make it my no-choice.
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Old 06-10-2015, 10:09 AM   #3
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yes you can get burned if you aren't careful - when we lived in TX we could choose from one of several providers - we ended up saving several hundred a month
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Old 06-10-2015, 10:22 AM   #4
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Our municipality has done the bargaining for us, yet we can choose to 'opt out'.

I assume you are just talking 'alternative suppliers', right? Not purchasing power from an 'alternative energy source' (like wind/solar)?

I guess I don't get how those wind power contracts work. I can't imagine that they wouldn't be using that wind power if not enough people signed up? So what does signing up do (maybe just make some people feel better?)?

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Old 06-10-2015, 10:26 AM   #5
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There may be legit ways, but scams abound. Just because your state or utility offers "alternatives," doesn't mean you're actually helping or changing anything - you have to do your homework to know.

Just one of many references (Google for plenty more) http://energybrokernetwork.com/press_ltr.pdf
Quote:
Today, hundreds of universities and companies enthusiastically purchase billions of credible sounding “Renewable Energy Certificates” in the belief that their investments are developing alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar power. They are doing no such thing. Instead of unwittingly buying empty bragging rights, these schools and corporate players should pay for real energy projects with measurable impacts, like rooftop solar panels and improvements in energy efficiency.
Same shell game the United Way foisted on us (locally at least) by supposedly allowing donors to designate which charities their $ went toward (and not). Didn't change what % United Way gave to each charity one iota...
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Old 06-10-2015, 10:29 AM   #6
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Texas has implemented power deregulation in *most* of the state. In The Woodlands, we are not allowed to choose our "provider" and are forced to take power from Entergy in New Orleans, Louisiana. The cost per KWH rates are not even printed on the bill. I still have not figured out why this situation exists in a state that has chose deregulation? My daughter lives 5 miles away in Spring, TX and can choose her power plan. Strange.
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Old 06-10-2015, 10:50 AM   #7
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This was part California's power de-regulation put in place nearly 20 years ago.

The pick your power supplier thing turned into a complete cluster fornication . Most of the alternative suppliers were running on smoke + mirrors , went bankrupt. Currently the state dept. of water resources procures most of the power, supplemented by the local utility.

Some large business power users do successfully purchase their own electric power , didn't work for residential users.

De-regulation worked out a lot better in other states.

YMMV
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Old 06-10-2015, 11:06 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
I guess I don't get how those wind power contracts work. I can't imagine that they wouldn't be using that wind power if not enough people signed up? So what does signing up do (maybe just make some people feel better?)?
Yes, your characterization is correct.
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Old 06-10-2015, 11:19 AM   #9
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I just switched last month from the standard provider in our area (TXU Energy) to an alternate provider Bounce Energy. By my calculations it will save me roughly $400 a year due to the lower Kwh charge. Not a fortune. But it still felt good.


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Old 06-10-2015, 11:19 AM   #10
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I used an alternate provider in my area last year, it was originally much cheaper than normal electric. Then the standard provider lowered their cost which made it almost the same. Right before the one year rate on the wind power ended, I switched back because the cost of the alternate provider was going to go up, to about 50% more than the standard provider. If I hadn't been watching, one or two months of bills would have wiped out last years savings.
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Old 06-10-2015, 11:34 AM   #11
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I used an alternate provider in my area last year, it was originally much cheaper than normal electric. Then the standard provider lowered their cost which made it almost the same. Right before the one year rate on the wind power ended, I switched back because the cost of the alternate provider was going to go up, to about 50% more than the standard provider. If I hadn't been watching, one or two months of bills would have wiped out last years savings.
I suspect in a year I may find the same thing. Kind of like the dance that various cable content providers make you do. Switch every couple of years since they treat newer customers to lower rates than existing loyal customers. Seems crazy, but I'll do the dance they incent me to do.
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Old 06-10-2015, 05:23 PM   #12
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Yes, in Texas where I am there are many providers... I have switched providers that last 5 years... it seems that they all have some kind of promotional rate for new customers they will not give to existing customers...

In another thread I mentioned that I just signed up my mom with a decent plan... she was on 100% wind... I had just signed up with the same company as they had the best rates for what I needed... when I went to sign up mom that option was not there... I called and told them that I wanted to get the same plan I had for my mom.... rep said they could not offer that plan to her.... told them there were going to lose a customer if they did not... quote "We cannot offer her the promotional rate".... OK, no problem... signed her up for another provider and she is being switched today...
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Old 06-10-2015, 06:41 PM   #13
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Am not sure everyone understands how Alternate Energy Providers work.

This is an explanation from CUB... which is said to be the customer's voice on energy in Illinois.

The important point being made is that the company that delivers the energy to the home, still charges for that delivery. It's the same electricity... not hotter or colder or brighter... it's just that deregulation opens the door for other companies to make deals with electricity sources and... if the deals work out, will provide lower prices.
All electricity is tied into the "grid", so you don't get wind or hydro or coal energy delivered to you home
As I understand it ... it's a little bit like buying "futures"... and that deregulation opened the door for competition in buying electricity. YMMV

Anyway, here's the Citizens Utility Board of Illinois explanation.

Citizens Utility Board | Consumer Tips | Electric Competition: What ComEd customers should know
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Old 06-10-2015, 07:35 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
Am not sure everyone understands how Alternate Energy Providers work.

This is an explanation from CUB... which is said to be the customer's voice on energy in Illinois.

The important point being made is that the company that delivers the energy to the home, still charges for that delivery. It's the same electricity... not hotter or colder or brighter... it's just that deregulation opens the door for other companies to make deals with electricity sources and... if the deals work out, will provide lower prices.
All electricity is tied into the "grid", so you don't get wind or hydro or coal energy delivered to you home
As I understand it ... it's a little bit like buying "futures"... and that deregulation opened the door for competition in buying electricity. YMMV

Anyway, here's the Citizens Utility Board of Illinois explanation.

Citizens Utility Board | Consumer Tips | Electric Competition: What ComEd customers should know
This is how I understand it in my area of CA. I just switched to the "green" energy option because I want to support alternative energies. However, I'm still going to get my bill from PG&E. There will just be a line item describing who my energy provider is which determines the rate I pay. Initially the rate for 50% alternative energy is a tiny bit lower than PG&E and the 100% alternative energy rate is a tiny bit higher.

I see the alternative energy provider as just a middleman for a bunch of alternative energy source providers. They aggregate the power and set a price. I view PG&E the same way. They may own some power plants but they buy power on the western grid from other states too.

Offering customers the choice between PG&E and the other company is just a marketing research exercise. They learn what proportion of their customers are willing to pay more for alternative energies. This way they aren't forcing the higher price on all their customers. The state regulation in this case seems to mean that PG&E has to offer some alternatives but it doesn't mean that everyone has to pay for the higher priced energy for now. This seems totally reasonable to me.

However, I'm not sure whether people understand that they are not actually getting electrons directly form a geothermal or solar power provider. Electrons are electrons and it's all just coming over the wires from the same grid we have always used. It's all really just accounting.
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Old 06-10-2015, 11:36 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
Am not sure everyone understands how Alternate Energy Providers work.

This is an explanation from CUB... which is said to be the customer's voice on energy in Illinois.

The important point being made is that the company that delivers the energy to the home, still charges for that delivery. It's the same electricity... not hotter or colder or brighter... it's just that deregulation opens the door for other companies to make deals with electricity sources and... if the deals work out, will provide lower prices.
All electricity is tied into the "grid", so you don't get wind or hydro or coal energy delivered to you home
As I understand it ... it's a little bit like buying "futures"... and that deregulation opened the door for competition in buying electricity. YMMV

Anyway, here's the Citizens Utility Board of Illinois explanation.

Citizens Utility Board | Consumer Tips | Electric Competition: What ComEd customers should know
I've also read that they run a reverse auction to get the contracts for the energy supply. One source will offer up X MW-hrs at Y price, and they keep going around until they fill up the contracts to meet predicted demand.

-ERD50
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Old 06-10-2015, 11:51 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
Am not sure everyone understands how Alternate Energy Providers work.

This is an explanation from CUB... which is said to be the customer's voice on energy in Illinois.

The important point being made is that the company that delivers the energy to the home, still charges for that delivery. It's the same electricity... not hotter or colder or brighter... it's just that deregulation opens the door for other companies to make deals with electricity sources and... if the deals work out, will provide lower prices.
All electricity is tied into the "grid", so you don't get wind or hydro or coal energy delivered to you home
As I understand it ... it's a little bit like buying "futures"... and that deregulation opened the door for competition in buying electricity. YMMV

Anyway, here's the Citizens Utility Board of Illinois explanation.

Citizens Utility Board | Consumer Tips | Electric Competition: What ComEd customers should know

I know that I do not get the wind electricity delivered to me.... and I doubt that people posting here would think that either....

But, they provide a certain amount to the grid and need to sell that amount.... I have agreed to buy.... so, they put some in and I take some out... net net I am 'buying' wind.... BTW, I also know they are not producing all the time or when people need it the most... that is up to them to figure out...


I also have to pay a basic fee and a KWH fee to the grid operator.... all providers just pass that cost along to you.....
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