Dear PoPville – Next Era Energy Services other non Pepco recommendations?

Photo by PoPville flickr user AWard Tour

“Dear PoPville,

Recently I have received solicitations from Next Era Energy Services offering “the fast and easy way to pay less” – over Pepco I assume.

After some searching, I have not had much sucess finding customer reviews or any solid input online about Next Era, their service, prices, reliability, etc.

I wonder has anyone in the neighborhood made the change. Does anyone have experience or advise, good or bad, they can share on this company.”

and more generally:

“A friend got a call from a company offering to sell him electricity at a lower rate than Pepco. As I understand it, Pepco would still transmit the electricity but a different company can actually sell the juice. Does any of your readers have experience with an electric supplier other than Pepco?”

33 Comment

  • I don’t know about Next Era Energy Services but in general, Maryland and Washington DC have deregulated electricity markets. This means that as a resident (or business) of Maryland or DC you can choose your electricity supplier.

    I signed up with Clean Currents as my electrical provider, and they provide 100% wind power(through credits). My bill still comes from Pepco but with additional info about the provider. Very cool.

    Check them out at:

    • I use Clean Currents too.

    • I don’t get it. How can you determine that the electrons you consume were generated through wind power? I guess it’s all about taking out coal generated electrons from the grid, but how do you know? Chances are some coal fired PEPCO plant around here supplies your electrons.

      • there’s no way to know where the electrons come from. you’re buying the environmental attributes of the energy production. once it’s in the system, an electron is an electron. participation in voluntary renewable energy markets does spur renewable production, so you are having an impact.

        • Yeah, it seems like a scam. On the days it isn’t windy and no wind generated electricity is being generated you are then paying for coal generated electricity….which you don’t want. You have no way of knowing. Meanwhile you’re paying higher rates for the same dirty electricity.

          • not a scam. the voluntary market is actually a decently sound way to develop renewable electricity generation. it’s not possible to receive electrons from any one dedicated source if you’re plugged into the grid.

    • I live in a basement apartment and got my landlord to switch to Clean Currents. He says we are saving over 350 bucks a year! I love clean currents and put a lawn sign in our yard.

  • I think the people that contacted your friend are Constellation Energy (believe that’s their name). They approached me the other day as well. Essentially they lower your rate over the course of a year and then renogiate rates once that year expires. I believe the contract with them is for two years and Pepco continues to send your bills.

    I wasn’t able to figure out what’s in it for Constellation Energy as they provide electricity for Pepco right now anyway. I need to read through the paperwork some more but it seems like a good situation.

  • I was just about to email PoP the equivalent question but for natural gas. It would be great to expand the discussion to both energy sources. I keep getting letters from natural gas suppliers, and can’t really decide whether they’re worth it.

    The DCPSC website has some good information, for both gas and electric choices:

    This is supposed to help compare rates, but it really doesn’t help me:

    • really useful links. thanks.

    • ah

      I switched gas suppliers to WGES a couple of years ago.

      No issues once the switch was made. I’ve been monitoring rates, and they’ve been consistent 1-5% less per cu. ft. on a monthly basis.

      The annual contract has a higher rate, so I have not signed up for that in an environment of falling gas prices. At my old house I did do that, and luckily I won the bet when prices went up. But you could also lose the bet–I decided the 5-10% premium for reduced risk wasn’t worth it.

  • For my last apartment, I opted out of Pepco electricty and used Washington gas energy services instead. It just caused double the headache.

    You’re still billed by Pepco so still have to deal with their terrible customer service and outages. Things became more difficult when Pepco messed up on a bill and overcharged me (substantially). I called Pepco and then later paid what should have been the correct amount. Next bill, I discovered that Pepco kept ALL the money and never forwarded any to my electricity provider. Had to call Pepco again where they told me that they pay themselves first and then send forward whatever is left (nevermind that the portion they said I owed was incorrect!). I eventually had to call WGES and pay them directly to ensure they got paid and Pepco wasn’t holding their money hostage. Apparently, Pepco eventually got hip to that and disallowed that practice (all payments to 3rd party suppliers now must come directly from Pepco). It took MONTHS to straighten the ridiculousness and overcharging out.

    Bottom line, from now on I’ll just stick to having to deal with one supplier (though it only rewards Pepco for their incompetence).

  • I JUST – two weeks ago – changed to Constellation energy and it has yet to kick in. If PoP or anyone else want’s to email me for feedback in a few months I am happy to come back and explain my experience in detail.

    So far – The sign-up process was easy as heck and the switch should save me about 10% on the energy costs. I bought my house a year ago in July so I waited a few months to get a full-year look at energy usage, ran the numbers and it seems to make sense.

    The only things I would watch out for are:
    1) If you sign a contract for a year and energy prices drop you made a bad bed. It won’t break the bank but it will end up costing you the difference which should be small.
    2) Watch out for automatic renewal at the end of the contract – I came down to two companies and between the two one did an automatic renewal and one did not. Both have clear policies in place for notifying you of the renewal and giving you an out but it is still something that some folks would miss in the mail.

    In the end I see it as this – I save 10% from current rates for a few years and if it sucks at the end of the day I switch back to Pepco. Easy and easy.

    Plus Constellation offered me a $50 credit card giftcard which ended up adding to another bit of savings for the total. Win-win I say.

    The DC Public Service Commission has a great pamphlet comparing rates across providers on their site. Check things out here:

  • As others, You can choose one of about a dozen companies that sell electricty in the District market. They are all listed on the Pepco website.

    You still get your electricicty and bill from Pepco, if your power goes out it is still their problem, they just purchase your power through X company.

    I use one of these alternative companies but be careful. They quote you rates and then feed you a line about how it is X amt cheaper than Pepco when in reality Pepco charges two different rates, one for the summer (more expensive) and one for winter (less expensive).

    If you want to support the green power cause, you can buy wind or solar power. In every case it is more expensive than regular power, in the reange of 6-10% (as of the last time I compared a few months ago).

    Regardless, if you aren’t looking to pay more for green energy you should atleast look at the others rates. Pepco (surprise surprise) is one of the more expensive power providers out there.

  • This is ridiculously confusing stuff and I suspect that most people have no idea they can choose something other than Pepco or even that there are 3 kinds of electric service.

    About ten years ago most states and DC (the entities that control how electricity is sold) restructured the electric industry. The hope was that a flurry of competition would result. Then Enron happend, etc.
    Here’s what the DC gov. web site says: “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.”

    Most of Pepco’s residential customers are under “schedule R” and the price of our electricity is $.0973 per kwh (kilowat hour)

    Next era energy’s price is $.089 per kwh, $.093 for wind

    Constellation says it’s price is 8.99 cents per hwh while Pepco’s rate is 10.02 cents per kwh.

    Confusing….but it seems that consumers can do better than Pepco.

  • I work in the energy industry, so hopefully I can provide some helpful background to explain how this works.

    You may or may not know that electric power is actually created and sold in a wholesale-retail fashion very similar to physical commodities. Basically, one company that owns a power plant generates the power (the generator), another company moves the power from the plant to the substation near your home along those big power lines you see out in the country (the transmission owner), and a third company owns and services the power lines and infrastructure that brings the power to your house (the distribution owner, in our case, PEPCO).

    All three elements used to be owned by a local monopoly utility company. but, in order to foster price competition, the federal government took on a series of reforms in the late 90’s to allow these services to be sold separately in a competitive marketplace.

    So, while it wouldn’t make sense to have multiple sets of distribution-level power lines running to your house, PEPCO actually buys generation and transmission service to meet its load obligations from a host of competing G&T providers, which connect to various points on PEPCO’s grid.

    By law, PEPCO must allow you to choose from whom they will obtain your generation and transmission service (for reasons that aren’t important here, you have to choose the same provider for both generation and transmission). You can choose the lowest priced option from the Standard Offer Service rates on the DC Public Service Commission website, and you can also choose to obtain all or part of your generation from renewable sources.

    I have done this to switch to NextEra, and it’s knocked about $15-$20/month off my bill. You simply call the company that has the service you want, provide them with your address, PEPCO account number, and some other associated info, and they handle the rest. It takes about two billing cycles to kick in. I simply receive my bill normally, and have had no trouble with billing or related service issues.

    Although it’s true you will still have to deal with PEPCO’s all-too-frequent outages, you’d have to do this no matter what, because PEPCO runs the distribution network in the area. There’s no reason not to switch to the lowest cost provider; PEPCO is consistently 1.5c to 2c more expensive per kWh, and they do not use renewable sources.

    A final note: If you do switch over, you have the option of a 1-year or 2-year contract at the current offer price. SELECT THE 1-YEAR AGREEMENT. Natural gas prices are virtually guaranteed to drop over the next 12 months as new sources of shale gas (the principal fuel for our area’s generation providers) come online, and so you will be able to renew your G&T service next year at an even lower rate.

    • Most helpful… I suspect I will switch.

    • Wow – thank you! I’ve been wondering about this for months. (Any more big questions you can sort out for us???)

      • I can also tell you that there’s no reason to switch your residential natural gas service. You almost certainly receive service from the incumbent provider (Washington Gas), which charges a month-to-month floating rate. That rate should continue to drop over the next year as shale gas comes online, and even if it doesn’t drop, the spread between that and the fixed-rate contracts available works out to a dollar or two every month.

    • I also work in the electricity industry and am very impressed with this easy-to-understand explanation. One clarification I would make is that Pepco does sell some renewable energy, per DC’s renewable energy standard. You can definitely get more renewables from other providers, but you’re not getting zero if you stay with Pepco.

  • After going to the website for Clean Currents, it looks like you can sign up online using your Pepco account number. I calculated it out, and my small apartment would have saved about $40 last month using CLean Currents–that’s crazy!

    I have a question for someone who has switched from traditional Pepco to another provider in DC–do I need to somehow notify Pepco that I’m going to be using another provider? Will they automatically not transmit their own electricity if I’ve switched? I just don’t want to somehow end up having to pay a double bill because I didn’t ask. Thanks!

    • I think it is nice you are enthusiastic to use green power but I am sorry you did something wrong with the calculator.

      Even if switching to clean currents was cheaper (it isn’t, I just checked 2 minutes ago and its currently 4% more per KWH), for you to save 40 dollars on an apt electric bill would mean your regular monthly bill is thousands of dollars.

      My gf lives in a 2 bedroom apt with her being responsible for all the heat/cooling etc and her monthly electric bill rarely exceeds 45 bucks a month, so you ain’t saving that much

      • Considering that our last electric bill was $135 and the month before was $145, yes it is possible to save that much, considering that all of our utilities are electric. And I literally compared the rates for Pepco (13.X cents) and the one for Clean Currents, which was like 8.5 cents, against our current usage, so no I didn’t misuse the calculator, thanks though.

        Lucky that your girlfriend pays so little in electricity, but she must have a natural gas bill, and we don’t, so I’m pretty sure that’s the difference.

      • Yeah, no one’s bill is $45/month, unless they’re not home for large swaths of time and just turn the heat/AC off.

  • I’m confused. I looked at the DC comparison chart, and they have the following:

    Pepco annual average: 9.8
    Washing Gas 100% wind: 9.6
    NextEra 100% wind: 9.4
    Clean Currents 100% neighborhood wind: 10.38
    Clean Currents 100% national wind: 9.75

    Is there any good reason to choose anything other than NextEra 100% wind? Why is it so cheap?

  • Anyone know about Solar City, the company that leases soalr panels to you? You end up paying to lease the solar panels, but your energy usage is supposed to decrease so your overall bill goes down.

  • I recently switched to Clean Currents after conducting research on options. Clean Currents has a special offer for any new District resident who switches in the month of Oct. – it’s called Neighborhood Wind and has a rate of 8.9 cents/KWh (which is lower than Pepco’s standard offer).

    An important thing to remember when comparing rates between companies is to compare apples to apples. The above Clean Currents rate corresponds to 50% locally produced wind power (wind from our Mid-Atlantic grid). As mentioned earlier in this thread, it is impossible to trace every electron that powers your home, but by choosing locally produced wind, you’re directly increasing the share and demand for wind power in our region. In my opinion, this is definitely a better product than standard offers from Constellation or other electric suppliers that have negligible or no renewable energy in their mix.

  • Doing a general look-over of local suppliers, Clean Currents seems to be the only one that offers STRICTLY clean energy products. They seem to want people to know that their products are green-E certified, and from what I understand, green-E is a company that will verify that an electricity supplier is indeed selling clean, green energy. These days it’s hard to find anyone that is actually selling what they say they are, so it’s nice to know that Clean Currents has taken the extra step to ensure that their customers get what they are paying for.

    NextEra’s wind power also is green-e certified, but on the other hand, they offer a diverse amount of sources from which all of their energy is derived, allowing them to offer brown energy while keeping their green power prices at or lower than the prices of their competitors. In essence, even if you buy green energy from them, you’re giving them profits that can be used towards their brown energy market as well.

    I’d rather make sure all pennies that I spend are going towards development of ONLY green energy and toward the two-fold return of increasing demand for clean energy and decreasing demand for brown energy.

  • This is the most useful thread I have ever read on this website. Thank you so much to the knowledgeable people who took the time to reply! I have been bewildered by all the companies calling and coming by to convince us to switch and was convinced there had to be a scam in it somewhere. Now I know exactly what to do, you’ve saved me literally hours of research!

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