Lower energy prices in New Jersey, caused by the state’s energy choice laws, have increased the number of citizens participating in comparison shopping. Though energy choice has been active in the commercial sector for almost a decade, energy companies only started to offer competitive rates to residential consumers in 2010. Now the percentage of residential consumers who have selected an alternative electricity company is over 13%, and over 15% in the Jersey Central Power & Light and Atlantic City Electric service territories.
The competitive market added 143,063 customers from August 2011 through May 2012. With an average of over 14,000 new customers shopping for competitive electric rates a month, the overall health of the New Jersey electricity choice market has been picking up force as more competitive energy companies have entered the market hoping to gain market share. Competitive electricity rates are currently well below utility default rates allowing electricity shoppers to lower their electric bills as much as 20%.
In addition to electricity, more customers are now shopping for competitive natural gas prices. The state added just under 40,000 new choice customers over the last four months bringing to switch rate to 6.65%. With gas prices hovering around 10 year lows, consumers are locking in low gas rates to protect themselves from potential rising prices in the winter when the gas bill is at its highest. This is the great thing about energy choice; smart consumers have the ability to research and lock in low energy prices that can save them money on their utility bills. Those consumers who do not wish to take the time to compare energy prices end up paying utility default rates that are regulated by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.