Guess what, Connecticut? You have the right to choose your electricity service provider! This means you can shop for the electric plan that best meets your needs, while still receiving the same reliable service from your local utility.
How Connecticut Electricity Choice Works
In Connecticut, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) oversees the public’s right to safe, adequate, and reliable utility service at reasonable rates. This includes the rates and services offered by the two utility companies that once generated, distributed, and sold electricity throughout the state:
- Eversource was originally Connecticut Light and Power (CL&P ), part of Northeast Utilities. In 2015, Northeast Utilities and all its subsidiaries re-branded themselves as “Eversource Energy.” Eversource serves virtually all of Connecticut (the same territory as CL&P) — with the exception of the Greater Bridgeport-New Haven metro corridor and the towns of Bozrah, Groton, Norwich, and the southeast section of Lebanon.
- United Illunimation Company (UI) serves the Greater Bridgeport-New Haven metro corridor.
The cities of Groton and Norwich, the Borough of Jewett City, and the Second (South Norwalk) and Third (East Norwalk) Taxing Districts of the City of Norwalk are exceptions as they are members or participants in the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative (CMEEC). If you live in these cities, you unfortunately do not enjoy energy choice.
Following deregulation, these companies continue to distribute and deliver electricity to homes and businesses across the state. They also serve as standard service providers. Because of this, all electricity consumers pay a distribution rate, whether they remain with the local utility or chose a different company.
Standard Service Offer
Eversource and UI both offer residential service through their standard service offer. This is the basic electricity service available to all residential customers who do not choose a licensed electricity supplier. It also provides “last resort” service to residents whose suppliers leave the Connecticut market.
Eversource and UI buy electricity priced according to the Generation Service Charge (GSC). This is the cost passed directly onto their customers without markup. Both utilities charge ALL Connecticut electricity customers a delivery service charge (distribution), no matter who they select as electricity supplier. Standard service rates are set every six months and must be approved by PURA. The rates are announced about seven weeks before the rates are effective: respectively, those dates are May 10th and November 10th, followed by July 1 and January 1.
An “electric supplier” is any person, company, aggregator, or participating municipal electric utility that sells electricity supply services to end-use customers. All electrical suppliers must be approved and license by PURA to sell services in Connecticut.
Competitive electric suppliers purchase electricity from the electricity wholesale market, allowing them more options for buying and pricing electricity, as well as offering incentives to customers. Consequently, their retail rates are not regulated by the PURA.
PURA does set the rules for the retail electricity sales in Connecticut. Some important regulations are:
- Suppliers may only sell fixed-rate plans that don’t change price during the specified contract term. Connecticut banned residential variable-rate contracts starting October 1, 2015.
- Residential cancellation fees cannot exceed $50.
- Suppliers are required to notify you about a change in the generation rate when a fixed-rate plan is ending.
- Switching to a new supplier is limited to once a month because switch requests take up to two weeks to process.
- Switching to a new supplier occurs on your next meter reading date.
- New rates will take effect on the date of the next meter reading. Suppliers must submit new enrollments at least two days before this date, otherwise the switch will not occur until the next billing period.
In order to switch service, you should start the process 10 days before your next meter read. This allows your local utility and your suppliers to verify your account information. It also gives you three days for your right of rescission (see below) and provides two days for the utilities to internally process the request. Delaying this process will shift your switch to the next meter read date.
Suppliers must “include a clear and conspicuous statement providing the customer’s right to cancel such contract not later than three days after signature or receipt” of the written agreement and face no penalty.
How to Shop for Electricity in Connecticut
It’s easier than ever to take advantage of energy choice in Connecticut!
1. Go to the Energize Connecticut website.
2. Click on the link tab to “Choose Your Energy Supplier.”
3. Click on the check box to choose your utility, Eversource or UI, and then check “resident” or “business. Then click the “Compare Now” button.
Note: some virus protection programs that offer web browsing protection may block comparison results when you press the “Compare Now” button. Temporarily disabling the web protection feature while visiting this site solves this problem.
4. Current supplier offerings are shown at the top of the page. These are based on your utility’s standard service rate. You can input your actual monthly usage and rate to the right, then click UPDATE to get a customized range of electricity supplier plans. Scroll down to see the supplier offers.
5. Your utility rate will remain visible as you scroll to see other suppliers’ offers. You can also click on the column headers to sort information by column. Offers are arranged with the following information:
- The name of the supplier and phone number.
- The plan description. All plans are fixed rates for a set number of billing cycles. Plans may also charge an enrollment fee, require usage amount at or below a set level of kiloWatt-hours (kWh), and/or charge an early cancellation fee.
- Energy source. This is the percentage of renewable energy sources providing power. State renewable-energy standards mandate that all electric suppliers include at least 18% renewable energy in their supply. However, some suppliers exceed that amount. To support the use and development of clean, renewable energy, PURA created the CTCleanEnergyOptions program. By signing up with a CTCleanEnergyOptions supplier and paying a small fee, consumers can help support clean energy made from approved renewable resources such as wind, solar, and biomass.
- Rate. This is the supplier’s Generation Service Charge (GSC) rate or price per kWh. Remember: this price does not include the distribution and transmission rate charged by your local utility.
- Cost/month. This is an estimated amount you would pay per month based on your usage information.
- Monthly Savings. The estimated amount this plan saves versus the standard offer. It does not include the cost of a plan’s enrollment fee (if any).
- Contact/Enroll. This button is usually a link to the supplier’s website where you can get more information about the company and their plans.
Before You Sign, Ask Questions
Consider these three things when you shop for an electricity supplier:
1) Price: Are the rates competitive? Are there any expensive fees? How do the rates or plan compare with your local utility?
2) Services Offered: How’s the customer service? Does the company offer incentives like rewards, refer-a-friend, or similar programs? How does the company rate?
3) Financial Stability: Even though the PURA standards for electricity suppliers are high, how financially stable is this company? How long have it been in the energy business?
Keep in mind that plans and terms of service will vary depending on the retail supplier. Be sure to ask electric suppliers these questions when you compare their offers:
- What is the length of the contract?
- What are my monthly savings if I switch?
- Will the contract automatically renew at the end of the term? How much notice must I give if I don’t wish to renew?
- Is there an early termination/cancellation fee if I switch to another supplier before the contract period ends?
- Is a security deposit, enrollment, or other similar fee required?
- Are there any late fees or other fees?
- Do you offer any other services? (such as energy auditing and conservation, load management, or other energy-related services.)
- How is the electricity generated – coal, gas, nuclear, hydroelectric, etc.?
- What percentage of the fuel source is renewable?
- Where does the renewable portion come from?
All electricity suppliers are required to provide a PURA approved disclosure label that provides information about the generation sources and emissions for electricity.
If you experience a dispute with your retail service provider and are not satisfied, contact PURA’s Consumer Affairs Unit.