3-6″ of Snow in the Forecast

We blogged last week about the seasons changing – and the impact that will have on your electric bills. And it is about to get real in Northern, IL!

We are fans of Danny Neal and the Stormchaser’s blog. This morning  we woke up to news from Danny that Illinois can expect multiple inches of snow this Friday night and Saturday morning. winter storm watch

Hop on over to Danny’s blog and follow him on Facebook for great weather tracking…and, after you’ve done that – sign up with Energy Simply so you’ll know that you’re not paying way too much for electricity in these cold, dark winter months.

 

FAQ: Can I switch my electric power company?

You don’t have to keep overpaying for electricity,  or keep polluting the world with dirty electricity.  If you live in Texas or Illinois, you can switch and start getting cheaper and/or greener power now.

changesameIn Texas, if you are currently not under contract (on a month-to-month or pay as you go plan)  you can switch right now.  You can also switch right now, with no termination fee, if your plan expires in the next 14 days (you are within the state mandated grace period).  If you are not in either of those 2 groups, you can still switch right now, but you are likely under contract and subject to a termination fee ranging from $100-$200 if you switch.

If you fall into one of the first 2 groups you  should always switch right now.  You are definitely paying more than you need to if you have a month-to-month plan or a pay as you go plan, and if your plan expires in the next 14 days you want to switch now so the company can’t hit you with month-to-month variable rates upon contract expiration.  If you have a cancellation charge, it may still be worthwhile to switch.  Our average customers save ~$50/month and some of our customers have saved $100s/month.  If you haven’t changed providers in more than a year, you have more than a few months left on your contract, and you live in a 2000+ square-foot house, chances are you can save money by switching.  You can go to www.powertochoose.org and pick a plan.

Things to remember when picking a Texas plan:

1) Always choose a fixed price plan

2) You can often save money with 3-6 month plans

3) Make sure you note your contract end date, so you can sign yourself up for your next plan before the one you choose expires

4) Your use varies so take a look at www.smartmetertexas.com to help you figure out what your expected usage will actually be

5) Always look at the fact label and make sure the company isn’t playing games with pricing using large credits or other tricks to make their plan look cheaper

In Illinois, the vast majority of people will have no cost to switch (basically if you’ve never switched before there will be no cost to switch).  So you can go to www.pluginillinois.org,  choose a cheaper (current price to compare from ComEd is ~7¢/kWh ) or greener plan and in 3 to 7 weeks you will be receiving power from your new provider.

Two things to remember when choosing an Illinois plan:

1) Always choose a fixed price plan!

2) Make sure you know when your plan will end and remember to switch again to a new plan ~5 weeks before the end of your plan to avoid getting hit with variable rates at the end of your contract (to figure this out you also need to know when it starts).

And lastly,  remember there is an alternative to spending your precious tine staying on top of this stuff.  You can let Energy Simply manage it all for you.  We are electricity market experts and we are always thinking of ways to keep you in the best cheapest (and potentially greenest) plans.  We sign you up for the best available plan, track prices in case it ever makes sense to switch mid-contract, and switch you before your contract expires so you never get stuck paying variable rates.  And it will only cost you $5/month.  Sign up today!

Powers out…what now?

Who you gonna call?

ghostbustersWhen I was a kid one of my absolute favorite movies was Ghostbusters and the theme song was the absolute best! But even that great song is not going to cheer you up when your power goes out and you’re wondering…”who you gonna call?” And…you may be wondering who the heck to call since there are now so many electricity companies out there. 

When your power goes out, it is important to report it to the utility company that produces and delivers your electricity…not the retail electricity supplier (who you buy your electricity from). It is important because the more information the utility has about where power is out – the better they can respond with repairs to restore the electricity. Also, many utility companies offer some excellent communications services like text message alerts and time estimates for how long until your power is restored. So, here is a little reference guide for who to call when your power goes out… 

 

Illinois Customers 

 

Greater Chicagoland Area: Comed 

 

Western, Central and Southern Illinois: Ameren 

 

Texas Customers 

 

Austin: Austin Energy 

 

Dallas/Ft. Worth and Surrounding Areas: Oncor Electric Delivery 

 

Lewisville and North Texas: Texas-New Mexico Power Company 

 

Houston and Surrounding Areas: CenterPoint Energy or Texas-New Mexico Power Company 

 

South Texas: AEP Texas Central Company 

 

 

SharylandSharyland Utilities

Illinois Residents: As municipal rate plans expire, rates may go up

If you buy electricity in Illinois there is a good chance you’ve saved a little money due to municipal aggregation. A few years ago when Illinois opened up its retail electricity market the law allowed for companies to negotiate deals with local municipal governments (villages, cities, counties, townships) which typically resulted in cheaper electricity for residents. Okay, hopefully I haven’t already lost you…this is important!tearing contract

Most of those rates were pretty good – unless you’re in Aurora, IL – your rates are very high and you should call us immediately! But, many of those agreements are set to expire in coming months. One very big example is the City of Chicago who’s municipal aggregation agreement expires in May of 2015. However, there are many other agreements that are set to expire soon.

What that means is there will be uncertainty in the market and potential rate increases. Here are a couple of tips to protect yourself from rate increases:

  • Check here to see if your municipal aggregation plan is set to expire soon.
  • If it is, check with your town about the new rates.
  • Keep a close eye on your electricity bill.

With preparation and research you can benefit from the market uncertainty by getting lower rates from competitors. If you don’t have the time to research and manage the switching – we can do it for you.

Many people (Chicago included) will automatically switch to being Comed customers. If you’d prefer cheaper or greener electricity than Comed offers, sign up with Energy Simply and we’ll keep you locked into the cheapest or cheapest green electricity available at all times.

Illinois Electricity Prices on the Rise

Recent news reports have cast a light on impending increases that will start to show up on your electricity bills. The reports outline obscure policies and conditions that could lead to increases as high as 20%! The time has never been better to shop around for a better electricity supplier, or let Energy Simply do the work for you – you’ll save money as energy prices increase and you won’t have to worry about getting hit with hidden fees or switching penalties.

Crains recently reported on a somewhat obscure court ruling that could have major impacts on your energy bills. They’ve also provided coverage on power company rate hikes that will lead to residential customers’ rates jumping significantly! The Chicago Tribune had a similar article outlining the rate hikes for Chicago-area customers.

Finally, there are many consumers whose municipal aggregation electric plans are set to expire and increase in the near future. The Village of Norridge is planning to switch back to Comed since they haven’t been able to negotiate a lower group price. Arlington Heights has paid major fees to an energy consultant, but their rates still aren’t the cheapest available. In fact, cities and towns all over Illinois are seeing their negotiated rates on the rise. Even if your city or town has negotiated good electricity rates for you, Energy Simply can save you money and find you 100% renewable plans, and there is no penalty for opting out of your municipal plan.

So, to recap: The bad news is that your electricity prices are going up. But, the good news is that when you sign up with Energy Simply, we will shop around to keep you locked into the cheapest or cheapest 100% renewable electricity plan. You can rest assured you’ll get the best deal for your money.

As rates start to rise, Energy Simply is prepared to take the hassle out of getting the best deals on cheap and renewable electricity.

Sign up at www.EnergySimp.ly today.

Gideon Blustein is a Co-Founder and Advisor of Energy Simply. He previously worked in the United States Congress as a Chief of Staff and for the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. Gideon is pursing an MPA from Northwestern University and holds a B.A. from the University of Illinois.

Why Does It Take So Long For My New Plan To Start? (Illinois Residents)

By: Jordan Hobfoll, Co-Founder and CEO, Energy Simply LLC

Unlike in states like Texas, when you switch power plans in Illinois you don’t start your new plan right away (in Texas, you can either wait up to 7 business days or pay extra fees for a switch sometimes as fast as same day). So what gives?

You thought you signed up for your new plan, so where are your savings?

The answer lies in the rules for how ComEd and Ameren switch your provider. There are two restrictions that create this gap.

  1. There is an 18 day waiting period from when ComEd or Ameren receive the request from your new provider until when they generate the order to switch your service.
  2. A generated order to switch service isn’t completed until your next meter read date

So for example, if your next meter read date is in 15 days, and you sign up for service with a cheaper provider today (assuming the new provider immediately submits your request), then ComEd won’t generate the order to switch you until 3 days after that meter read date. And you won’t actually get switched until the following meter read date 27 days later, for a total of 45 days from when you signed up until you are switched. Additionally, you won’t see your new supplier on your bill until 30 days more after that, when you get the bill from that billing period.

So it could take 75+ days before you physically see a cheaper bill. No wonder it sometimes feels like it take forever. It sort of does…

So what if you sign up for a 6-month fixed term contract that is set to expire 11/15. How do you know when to sign up for another plan so you don’t get charged month-to-month variable rates by the supplier?

Well in this case, your expiration should also be your meter read date. So you want to choose a new provider at least 18 days before that date, or before 10/28. But at Energy Simply we recommend that you be even more conservative and choose your provider 2 weeks even before then, or 10/14 in this case. That way you minimize the possibility that a delay in a provider’s submission to ComEd or Ameren, or a slip up from ComEd or Ameren causes you to miss the deadline.

If it sounds complicated and a lot to keep track of, that’s because it is. However, you can simplify this process very easily. How? Let Energy Simply manage it for you! We keep track of all the dates for you and use our proprietary analysis to make sure you are always in the best plan.

Jordan Hobfoll is the Co-Founder and CEO of Energy Simply. He previously worked at McKinsey & Company, where he was a consultant for some of the largest electric utilities in the United States. Jordan also holds an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin and a B.S. in Finance with High Honors from the University of Illinois.