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Q. What is electric customer choice and how is it related to your bills?

As shown on your bills, electric rates are divided into distribution, generation, and transmission services. Distribution services cover PEPCO's costs to deliver electricity within the District to homes and businesses. Generation services cover the costs of producing electricity. Transmission services contain the costs of transporting electricity across states from the plants where it is produced to the District.

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Since January 2001, all residential and commercial electricity customers can choose their supplier of generation and transmission (G&T) services, while PEPCO is the sole provider of distribution services. Non-space heating residential customers receive service under Schedule R, while space heating residential customers receive service under Schedule AE. Moreover, PEPCO provides G&T services to customers, who do not choose an competitive supplier, under its Standard Offer Service (SOS).

 
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Q. Who are the G&T suppliers and how can you contact them?

PEPCO and several competitive supplier now accept new residential customers. For a complete list of all competitive electricity suppliers that the Commission has approved, and are accepting new customers, please refer to the following link:
http://www.dcpsc.org/customerchoice/whatis/electric/Approved_Commodity_electric_Suppliers.shtm

 
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Q. What kinds of products do electricity suppliers provide?

Washington Gas Energy Services (WGES) offers electricity products with varying amounts of renewable energy. WGES offers 5 percent, 50 percent, and 100 percent wind power for new customers. However, all electricity suppliers must meet certain minimum renewable energy requirements in order to comply with the District's renewable energy portfolio standard.

Since 2007, all electricity suppliers (including PEPCO) must meet certain minimum requirements in terms of fuel resources derived from renewable energy. The minimum requirement is 5 percent for 2009. The minimum requirement will increase to 20 percent by the year 2020.

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Q. What are the current G&T prices?

The "Price to Compare" is the average generation and transmission price per kilowatt-hour. The Commission does not set the Price to Compare for competitive suppliers and PEPCO. Competition in the market for energy determines generation prices, while the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regulates transmission prices.

The Commission provides the Price to Compare for PEPCO and current competitive suppliers for new residential customers on its website. These prices are updated on a monthly basis. The following links provide information on products and prices:
http://www.dcpsc.org/pdf_files/hottopics/Compare_ElectricSuppliers_Offers.pdf*
http://www.dcpsc.org/pdf_files/hottopics/History_electric_prices.pdf*


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Q. Please compare residential suppliers' bills.

Sample usage amounts and corresponding bills by customer class (Schedule R, Schedule AE, and different competitive suppliers) are available on the Commission's website at the following link:2
http://www.dcpsc.org/pdf_files/customerchoice/electric/Electric_Bill_Comparison.pdf*

2 - Schedule R is for non-space heating customers. Schedule AE is for space heating customers.


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Q. How can you calculate your own bill?

The Commission has developed calculators that enable you to estimate or verify your bill based on your own usage as shown on your bill. In addition, you can compare your bill to PEPCO's Standard Offer Service (SOS). The calculators are available on the Commission's website at the following link:
http://www.dcpsc.org/Electric/Calculator.asp

If you do not have Internet access, you can call the Commission on 202-626-5120 and someone will calculate your bill for you after you give them your usage.



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Q. What questions should you ask suppliers to determine if you should switch?

To select your G&T supplier, consumers should take the time to consider and ask each supplier, including PEPCO, the following questions:

  • What is your price to compare (generation and transmission charges)?
  • What are the terms and conditions of the contract?
  • Are renewable resources used and to what extent?
  • Is there a penalty for switching before the end of the contract? If yes, how much is the fee?
  • Are there any additional charges?
  • How will I be billed? (Separately or by PEPCO)
  • What kind of billing and payment options are available?
The terms of your agreement with a supplier dictate the length of service. Currently, the initial contract terms for Horizon Power and Light can be from 6 to 18 months. Washington Gas Energy Services offers contracts of 1, 2, or 3 years.

Residential customers may switch from PEPCO's Standard Offer Service (SOS) to an competitive supplier and return to SOS without restrictions.



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Q. Is there assistance for low-income customers?

If you are a low-income customer, you can apply to the District Department of the Environment's Energy Office (DDOE) for a discount on your electricity bill through the Commission-mandated Residential Aid Discount (RAD) offered by PEPCO and for federal assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). DDOE also has other energy efficiency programs, including the installation of energy efficiency measures in your home. Call DDOE's Hotline on 202-673-6750 for more information.

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Q. What can you do to keep your electric bills affordable?

Consider joining PEPCO's average payment plan. It allows you to spread the costs and hence payments over 12 months and pay a fixed amount each month. This means you will pay less than the actual monthly cost in the high usage months (such as the summer months) and you will pay more than the actual monthly cost in low usage months. Even if you choose this approach, it is still in your interest to keep your usage and costs as low as possible to minimize the amount of the monthly charges.

In addition, the Commission urges consumers to seek ways to use electricity wisely by implementing a number of energy efficiency measures, some of which can be relatively low cost.

  • Seal leaks around doors, windows, and other openings, such as pipes or ducts, with caulking or weather-stripping.
  • Replace broken or cracked glass and consider installing storm windows.
  • Consider replacing incandescent with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). The best targets are 60-100W bulbs used several hours a day.
  • Clean or replace furnace, air-conditioner, and heat-pump filters.
  • Assess your heating and cooling systems. Determine if replacements are justified, or whether you should retrofit them to make them work more efficiently to provide the same comfort (or better) for less energy.
  • Set your thermostat lower (higher) when you can accept cooler (warmer) conditions. This generally includes night time and whenever you leave your home for several hours. You may want to consider purchasing an ENERGY STAR programmable thermostat that will automatically adjust the thermostat based on your time-of-day instructions.
  • Consider purchasing a new, high-efficiency appliance or water heater. If your appliance or water heater is nearing the end of its normal life span or has experienced problems in the past, a new high-efficiency unit can save you money.
  • Schedule an energy audit for more expert advice on your home as a whole, or learn how to conduct your own by visiting the Home Energy Saver Web site. You can also visit PEPCO's website to find ways to save energy with an online energy audit tool.
  • Find out if you are eligible to participate in programs offered by the District Department of the Environment's Energy Office ("DDOE").
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Q. What assistance is the Commission providing customers?

The Commission has taken the following steps to inform the public of the outlook for electricity prices* and to help customers find ways to save energy. They include:
  • Preparing and distributing fact sheets and energy savings tips throughout the District including a special mailing to Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANC) and civic associations.
  • Speaking at community forums including ANCs and civic associations meetings. Call 202-626-5120 if you would like to engage a speaker from the Commission.
  • Publicizing prices and energy savings information on the Commission's website - www.dcpsc.org so consumers can make informed choices.
 
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