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What to Know When You’re Shopping for an Energy Supplier

Considering buying energy from an alternative supplier? Be sure to do your research and get the facts before you sign that contract.
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Unitil supports freedom of choice when it comes to your electric supplier service. As with most things, a smart consumer is an educated consumer. Since the deregulation of electricity in New England, the number of energy suppliers registered with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in New Hampshire and the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) in Massachusetts has increased exponentially. It’s important for consumers to explore their options when considering an alternative supplier. Read on to learn the ins and outs of choosing an alternative energy supplier so that you can make an informed decision – before you sign that contract.
 

Understanding Your Bill

Your electric bill consists of two parts: the delivery and maintenance of electric service to your home or business (the poles and wires), and the energy supply, or electricity, itself. Unitil will continue to deliver electricity to customers within its service territory; however, customers are free to purchase the electricity from a third party of their choosing. In the event of a power outage, Unitil is still responsible for restoring power and responding to service and emergency needs. Depending on the supplier you choose, you may receive a combined bill itemizing electricity and other costs, or you could be billed separately.

Shop Smart

Both regulatory agencies offer tools on their websites that consumers can use to compare their options. Companies listed have been approved by the DPU and PUC and have entered into an agreement with Unitil, but there are additional variables for consumers to consider, such as:

  • What is the cost per kilowatt hour?
  • If this is an introductory rate, what will the price be at the end of the introductory period?
  • Is pricing fixed or variable? For fixed-rate pricing, how long is that price guaranteed?
  • For variable-rate pricing, how frequent are rate adjustments?
  • How long is the contract?
  • Does the contract renew automatically?
  • Is there a penalty for early cancellation?
  • What percentage of energy comes from renewable sources?
  • Will the electricity charge appear on my Unitil bill, or will I be billed separately?

 

The decision to switch electricity providers is ultimately a personal one. Not all third-party energy suppliers are created equal, so it’s important to consider the pros and cons of each option to ensure it makes sense for your lifestyle and budget.

Fun fact: The first power plant opened in New York City in 1882. It was owned by Thomas Edison.

Will I save money by switching to an alternative energy provider?

Whether or not you will save money depends on a number of factors, so it’s important to get as much information as you can. Before contacting alternative energy suppliers, know the price you are currently paying for energy service. Log in to your MyUnitil online account for a copy of your latest bill.

Will I have to get a new electric meter?

No. Unitil will continue to provide the delivery of your electricity, and will still be responsible in the event of an outage or service emergency.

What if I change my mind? Can I switch back to Unitil?

Yes. However, the alternative energy supplier may charge a cancellation fee if you switch before your contract expires.

How can I be sure I’m contracting with a reputable energy supplier?

Competitive energy suppliers must register with the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) and Public Utilities Commission (PUC) before selling electricity to customers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. A list of approved providers can be found on their websites.