Educational Consumer Tips

Choosing Energy Service Providers/Utility Company

Author: Better Business Bureau

The following is BBB general information and is not intended as a report on any specific company.

The New York State Public Service Commission (NYSPCS) regulates the state's gas and electric utilities.  

In an effort to provide a more competitive marketplace, the NYSPSC has overseen the deregulation of the electric and gas industry. In this competitive energy market, electricity and gas continue to be delivered through the local utility-owned wires and pipes, and the NYSPSC continues to oversee the safety and reliability of the delivery system. However, consumers now have a choice in who provides the energy supply and have the ability to shop for the best rates and services. 
Shopping for Energy Supply 
Making the best decision for your family's needs involves some thoughtful homework. Companies who offer electricity and gas supply are your local utility and Energy Service Companies (ESCOs). An ESCO is an entity eligible to sell electricity and/or gas to end-use customers using the transmission or distribution system of a utility. The NYPSC requires ESCOs to also provide consumer protection such as giving customers a written statement disclosing the ESCOs complaint resolution process and a 15-day notice before discontinuing service. A comparison of rates and other service features will help you make a wise decision. 
Consider the following steps to help you make the best choice for your needs: 
*Contact your local utility or the NYSPSC for a list of ESCOs that have met utility and NYSPSC requirements to provide service in New York State. 
*Contact the BBB to check the reputation of ESCOs on the list.
*Get estimates in writing and compare for savings, services offered, billing procedures, options and fixed or variable rates. 
*Sign a contract only after reading the entire document and obtain a copy for your records.
*Always read your monthly ESCO bill as soon as you receive it to verify the charges and name of the ESCO. 
Problems & Pitfalls 
Beware of the potential for fraud and scams. "Slamming" is the term used to describe the unauthorized switching of your energy supplier. To avoid slamming, you can ask your utility to "freeze" your account. No change in your supplier may be made until you give your consent to lift the "freeze." 
For more information, contact
Better Business Bureau Serving Upstate NY 
(800) 828-5000 
NYS Public Service Commission 
(800) 342-3377 
(888) 275-7721 
This report is general in nature and is not intended as a Business Review on any company, service or product.