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Are Alternative Energy Suppliers in DC Legit?

Posted on: August 27, 2015

As a DC or Maryland resident, electricity and natural gas are deregulated, giving you the option to choose your energy suppliers. Virginia residents can choose their natural gas supplier, but electricity is not deregulated in the state.

About Alternative Energy Suppliers

Deregulation occurred back in 1999 when the Electricity Competition Act passed with the hopes of introducing competition for Pepco, the primary electricity provider in DC. Nearly 170 companies are now licensed as alternative energy suppliers in DC.

In theory, increasing competition is a great plan. It allows you to comparison shop and choose the best alternative energy supplier based on rates, customer service, and other factors.

Unfortunately, this also sets the stage for unscrupulous alternative energy suppliers to pitch low rates by phone, direct mail, and door-to-door salesmen—only to charge more than the customer was originally paying. Learning how to spot these phony propositions can help you choose a legitimate alternative energy supplier!

Complaints Against DC’s Alternative Energy Suppliers

Hundreds of DC residents make complaints about alternative energy suppliers every year. According to a recent Washington Post article, Starion Energy is one such company that’s had its fair share of complaints in recent years. The article reports that in some cases, the switch to Starion has caused customers’ electricity bills to increase by more than 50 percent—despite having agreed to make the change for money-saving purposes.

Since alternative energy suppliers are prohibited from “engaging in…unlawful, misleading or deceptive” marketing tactics under District law, customer complaints are taken very seriously. If you have had a bad experience with an alternative energy supplier, file a complaint with the DC Office of the People’s Counsel.

Legitimate Alternative Energy Suppliers Serving DC Homeowners

Despite the bad press a handful of alternative energy suppliers have received, there are plenty of legitimate electricity suppliers in the DC area:

  • Agera Energy LLC
  • BGE Home Project and Services, LLC
  • Clear Choice Electricity, LLC
  • Direct Energy Services, LLC
  • Energy Consultants, LLC
  • Great American Power, LLC
  • IDT Energy, Inc.
  • KWH Savings LLC
  • NextEra Energy Services, LLC
  • Save On Energy LLC
  • Sperian Energy Corporation
  • Tobelmann Energy Brokers, Inc.
  • WGL Energy Services, Inc.

How to Choose an Alternative Energy Supplier

Even with shady suppliers ruled out, you still have dozens of legitimate options. Narrow down your selection by:

  • Learning about potential suppliers: While nearly 170 companies supply electricity in DC, a comparable few (65) are active, residential suppliers licensed by the Public Service Commission. These are the suppliers you should consider.
  • Asking the right questions: Contact a handful of alternative energy suppliers and compare their answers to your questions to help calculate potential savings:
    • What is your exact price per kilowatt-hour? Will this price vary?
    • What other fees are charged in addition to the electricity rate?
    • How does your price compare to Pepco’s?
    • What are your terms, conditions and cancellation policies?
    • Will I be billed separately, or by Pepco?
    • Is there a bonus or a fee associated with signing up?
    • From what sources do you generate electricity?
  • Considering environmental factors: If a few suppliers sound like viable options based on the answers they give, their fuel sources may very well be the tie breaker. Energy from solar, wind, or nuclear is cleaner than energy from oil or coal.

Contact Us for More Electricity-Saving Tips

At Kolb Electric, we want our Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC customers to save as much energy as possible. By lowering your consumption each month, you lower your bills! Contact us today for more tips to keep your electricity bills down—or check out our blog with more great electricity saving tips.

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