The power of choice: electricity options

July 23, 2006|By JAY HANCOCK | JAY HANCOCK,SUN REPORTER

BGE customers fretting about soaring electric rates finally have a number of choices. There are now at least five alternatives to BGE's off-the-shelf electricity product. All of them are cheaper. Here is a rundown. All rates are in kilowatt-hours and include electric-generation and transmission charges but not the 3-cent charge for distribution over BGE's wires.

WASHINGTON GAS ENERGY SERVICES Rates through June 2007: 10.72 cents summer; 10.21 cents nonsummer. Estimated monthly savings: $12 summer; $3 nonsummer. Early cancellation fee: $75 or $50.

COMMERCE ENERGY 12-month contract rates: 10.4 cents. Estimated monthly savings: $15 summer; $1 winter. Early termination fee: $75. Starting variable rate: 10.1 cents but changes with the market. Estimated monthly savings: initially, $18 off BGE's standard summer rate, but you're not protected from month-to-month increases if the price of wholesale power goes up. Savings in nonsummer months would be less if the price stays the same. Early termination fee: None.

OHMS ENERGY Four-month contract rate: 9.91 cents. Estimated monthly savings: $20 summer; $6 nonsummer. 10-month contract rate: 10.10 cents. Estimated monthly savings: $18 summer; $4 nonsummer. Early termination fee: $75.

PEPCO ENERGY SERVICES Starting variable rate: 10.36 cents. Estimated monthly savings (assuming the price doesn't change): $15 summer; $2 nonsummer. As with Commerce Energy's variable product, Pepco makes you bear the risk that market prices could rise. (Or they could fall.) But unlike with Commerce Energy's variable product, Pepco makes you commit for 12 months. Pepco says its energy is 10 percent "green." Early termination fee: $75.

MARYLAND ENERGY CONSORTIUM Four-month contract rate: 10.04 cents. Estimated monthly savings: $18 summer; $5 nonsummer. 10-month contract rate: 10.31 cents. Estimated monthly savings: $16 summer; $2 nonsummer. Early termination fee: None.

Jay Hancock is a business columnist for The Sun and writes "Electric Shock," a blog for electricity customers, where this information was first published. It can be read at www.baltimoresun.com/electricshock.

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