Retail Choice: New York utilities cry “bait and switch,” but it’s not that simple.
Here’s the deal. If you take electric service from Orange & Rockland Utilities (O&R), the Catskills affiliate of Manhattan’s Consolidated Edison (Con Ed), you can get on the phone, switch to a competitive retail supplier, and score an instant 7 percent discount off the filed utility rate for the energy commodity. It’s that simple. And if you don’t express a preference for any particular ESCO (competitive energy service company), O&R will pick one for you, at random.
But there’s a catch. The discount lasts for two months only. After that, if you haven’t signed a contract or taken some other action to lock in your discount, your ESCO can boost the commodity rate back to the old level—or even higher. You’d continue to pay the utility wires charge, so you might lose money over the long haul by choosing an ESCO for supply.
Of course, you can also take the money and run. After your two months are up, you notify O&R and return to traditional, regulated, and bundled utility service. In that case, however, you must wait a full year before getting another shot at the 7 percent premium.
So where’s the problem? This is America. This kind of offer occurs all the time. Think cell phones, credit cards, DSL Internet. Why should electricity be any different?