ELECTRIC INDUSTRY RESTRUCTURING
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- When an electric utility opens its service territory to competition, what will
change and what will stay the same?
- Consumers will be able to choose which company they would like to generate their power
or to buy power for them. However, consumers will not choose the company that delivers
their power to their home or business. This responsibility will remain with the local
utility, whose rates and service quality will remain regulated.
- Which customers in New Hampshire can currently choose a competitive electricity
- Currently, customers of Granite State Electric Company and the New Hampshire Electric
Cooperative can choose a competitive electricity supplier. Very soon customers of Public
Service Company of New Hampshire should also have the right to choose, due to the PSNH Restructuring Settlement between the Governor and
the utility that was recently approved by regulators and the Legislature.
- What does the PSNH settlement mean for PSNH customers' electric rates?
- Customers saw an automatic 5% reduction off their total bill on October 1, 2000 plus
another 10% reduction on May 1, 2001. Customers may see even greater savings, depending on
the price they pay to a competitive supplier. Residential and small business consumers may
want to consider joining a buying group or signing up with an aggregator so that they can
have the best opportunity to negotiate deals with suppliers.
- When will PSNH's service territory be open to competition?
- PSNH's service territory opened to competition on May 1, 2001.
- Will competitive electricity suppliers enter the State immediately?
- It may take some time for suppliers to enter the State and begin offering service to all
types of customers.
- What happens if someone hasn't selected a competitive supplier by the time
competition is opened up?
- Consumers should not worry if they have not signed up with a competitive supplier by the
time competition begins. Your local utility will supply electricity, at the reduced rates
mentioned earlier, to those homes and businesses who have not yet chosen a competitive
supplier while consumers explore their options and learn about different companies.
Residential customers may have up to 57 months from the start of competition in their
service area before they must choose a competitive supplier, while commercial and
industrial customers may have up to 45 months.
- What is "transition service"and how is it different from "default
- Transition service is electric power supplied by the local utility in the period before
customers have to choose a competitive supplier (see the question above). During this
time, the delivery utilities are required to offer transition electric service to their
customers. This allows time for competitive electricity suppliers to enter the
State, and for customers to select which supplier they want. Consumers can select a
competitive supplier and leave the so-called "transition service" at any
time. Residential and small business consumers will have just over
two and half years. Large businesses will have over one and half years, before they need
to make a choice.
- If after this transition period consumers find themselves without a competitive supplier
for whatever reason, the local utility will still supply them electricity under a service
called "default service" while the consumer looks for a new supplier.
- How will people find out about suppliers serving the State?
- One option is to contact the New Hampshire Public
Utilities Commission 1-800-528-2070 which will keep a list of registered suppliers. In
addition, suppliers will advertise - they might use mail, TV and radio ads, web sites,
and/or other means to reach customers.
- What questions should people ask suppliers?
- People should ask about a supplier's prices, additional fees if any, the length of the
service contract, any penalties for canceling the contract, package deals, that may
include natural gas, cable, long-distance telephone, or other "bundled" services
and ways to improve energy efficiency or conserve energy in their home or business.
- What is so called "green power" and should I be interested?
- Many customers are concerned about the environmental impacts of producing electricity.
Those interested should find out whether the electricity marketed is powered by fossil
fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas, and how much air pollution this creates, or
instead by cleaner, more environmentally-friendly renewable resources such as wind, solar,
hydro, and biomass. The energy choices that people make do affect the environment, and
customers under a competitive electric market will have the chance to "vote with
their energy dollars" by choosing an energy supplier that is committed to protecting
the environment. "Green power" has been a popular choice among both residential
and business consumers in states where electric choice has been introduced.
- Who can I contact if I have more questions?
- The best place to start is with the customer service department of your local electric
utility. However, for more information or if you are having a problem, contact the
Public Utilities Commission Consumer Affairs Division at 1-800-852-3793. Additional
information is also available at the PUC's Power Is Choice webpage.
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