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Every electricity provider is ultimately providing you with the same commodity: electric supply. Not much will change about the delivery, which is still performed by your local utility. The upshot is that when you compare electricity providers, you are mostly looking for the small differences between plans that will save you money and hassle over time.

Remember that a single electric provider may have a number of different plans for you to choose from, and that these change from area to area. You do not like options A, B, and C, but maybe D is perfect. Make sure you investigate all plans before you rule one out from your search.

Electricity Supply Rate

The most important thing that you will want to look for in order to lower your electric bill is a lower electric supply rate than you are currently paying through your utility (or your current retail electricity provider). What the utility charges you is called the “Price-to-Compare”, and this can be found on your most recent electric bill under “Generation Charges” or “Supply Charges”.  The rate will be expressed in cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), and may appear something like 8.945 cents/kWh. 

View a list of major U.S. utilities and how to find the supply charges on their respective bills.

 Electricity Contract Features

When you compare electricity providers, the most important features of each contract are length, electricity rate changes, signup bonuses, and electricity source.

  • Contract Length is pretty straightforward. This is how long the energy contract will last with a provider. Most providers offer a range of lengths, lasting from 3 months to as long as 3 years.
  • Is the rate fixed or variable? This is an extremely important question you should ask yourself when looking for a plan. With some plans the energy rate will stay fixed and not change for the duration of your contract. With other plans, they may contain a variable rate and change from month to month.
  • Signup bonuses are a common technique that companies use to attract new business. This bonus might be as simple as a discounted rate on the first month of electricity.  A few providers offer more exotic rewards like frequent flier miles or package deals for some new technology. (Make sure to put the whole arrangement in perspective when you sign a contract; don’t lock yourself into a bad deal just because the bonus looks good!)
  • Some providers offer you control over where your energy comes from. Maybe you want to ensure that your electricity supply comes from all green sources, or even exclusively from a wind farm. This is one area where the company can make a big difference.

Types of  Electricity Providers

What different providers are out there offering alternative electricity plans to consumers? The answer is lots. It’s a huge market, and many different businesses are working within it.

There are large providers operating everywhere in North America that want to sign you up. These often have smaller brands that they use to market themselves locally. They  are by necessity a little more generic, but sometimes they have the means to offer you an impressive range of possible plans.

There are also smaller providers that represent small energy collectives in your area. These can be non-profits interested only in distributing energy where it’s needed and doing so in a way that’s environmentally responsible.

Some of these providers have been around for decades; many others have sprung up recently in response to the newly available opportunities.

Compare Electricity Providers

What these providers have in common is that they’re competing to sell you electricity. This is a very simple commodity, and it’s being routed through your local utility. That means you don’t have to consider whether the company is good at delivering electricity, installation or resolving blackouts.

View a full list of questions to ask retail electricity providers.

How to Compare Electricity Providers

To start comparing providers, plans and electricity rates, just type your zip code into our Compare and Switch tool located on the right side of the screen. After clicking the ‘Search’ button, you will be able to compare a number of different electricity providers for your current utility.