One of the primary appeals of electricity deregulation was always the ability for different alternative electricity providers to offer unique packages to promote their services, something other than just lower electricity rates. SmartMoney reports some of the more intriguing options to emerge from this model are policies that actually reward customers for not using electricity.

One of the keys to reducing electricity rates as well as greenhouse gas emissions is actually not some new technology, but simple conservation. Reducing demand can also prove a cost-effective way to protect the stability of the grid.

Some utility companies and retail electricity providers have developed rewards programs that can offer points toward prizes like gift certificates and coupons, simply for reducing consumption from previous years. Others are offering outright cash rewards for allowing them to shut off air conditioners at times of peak demand. One electricity provider, Energy Plus, has even set up partnerships with existing rewards programs.

Many of these programs rely on the use of smart meters to track energy usage in real time. The addition of this equipment has opened up many new options for the industry, such as time-of-day electricity rates or even incorporating solar power installations.