Tips Con Ed Customers Can Use for Switching Electricity and Natural Gas Suppliers

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If you live in New York and are a customer of Con Edison (Con Ed), the state’s largest public utility, electricity and natural gas are delivered to your home by Con Ed. You may even buy your electricity and natural gas from Con Ed. But you don’t have to. Con Ed’s service territory is deregulated, which means you’re allowed to shop around and buy your electricity and natural gas from among several competing energy companies, called Energy Service Companies, or ESCOs.

The idea behind deregulation is that competition from energy companies will drive down prices as the companies compete for your business. The good thing is that you don’t have to worry about your electricity and natural gas service. Con Ed will still deliver the energy to your home, regardless of which company you buy it from. Even better, shopping around for energy can save you money off monthly utility bills. Here are a few tips to help you choose the ESCO that’s right for you.

How to choose an ESCO

A Con Ed customer who is thinking of switching from Con Ed to an ESCO should contact the electricity and natural gas suppliers that offer service in the area, compare the offers and look into how companies handle things like customer service and bill payments. There’s more to an ESCO than just the price and things like bilingual support or a mobile app can increase your satisfaction.

When you contact the ESCO, ask about the different plans they offer, terms of the plan — including whether the plan has a fixed rate or variable rate and contains any minimum usage fees or early-termination fees — bill payment options, customer support options and any other options important to you.

Don’t forget: Con Ed will still be your energy delivery company

Remember, regardless of which electricity or natural gas supplier you choose to buy your energy from, Con Ed will continue to deliver electricity and natural gas to your home. Con Ed will still be responsible for responding to outages and emergencies and for providing service for wires, poles, transformers and gas lines.

Also, it’s important to note that regardless of who you buy your electricity or natural gas from, Con Ed will provide you with the same level of service as everyone else. In other words, Con Ed won’t punish you with bad service if you buy your energy from another company.

How to sign up with an ESCO

Once you’ve made your decision on which electricity or natural gas ESCO you want to switch to, the ESCO will ask for your Con Ed account number to obtain your electricity or natural gas usage information. Once you agree on a plan, you can enroll immediately (with most ESCOs).

When does new service with an ESCO begin?

For electricity suppliers, your new ESCO will begin selling you electricity on your next meter reading date, as long as you enroll in the new service at least 15 days prior to the date. If you enroll after that, you’ll have to wait for the next meter reading date to begin receiving electricity under your ESCO’s plan.

For natural gas suppliers, things are a little simpler. If you enroll by the 15th of any month, you’ll begin receiving gas under your ESCO’s plan by the first day of the following month.

How will I be billed if I switch to an ESCO?

If you switch to an electricity or natural gas ESCO, you may receive two bills — one from the ESCO for the amount of electricity or natural gas that you use and one from Con Ed for delivering the energy to your home — or you could receive one combined bill with two separate charges for supply, from the ESCO, and delivery, from Con Ed. Other billing options are possible. How your bill is delivered will be based on your ESCO and the arrangement it has with Con Ed.

If I switch from Con Ed to an ESCO, can I switch back to Con Ed?

Yes. However, you should consider the terms of your ESCO’s contract, including things such as early termination fees, before switching back. If you switch from a natural gas ESCO back to Con Ed, you must remain with Con Ed for one year before switching to another natural gas ESCO.

Sources

Con Edison, “PowerYourWay for Residential.”

Con Edison, “PowerYourWay Frequently Asked Questions.”

When and How to Contact Con Ed for Electricity and Natural Gas Questions

Tuesday November 29, 2011
Posted at 13:06
Tags: con ed

Con Edison (Con Ed) delivers electricity and natural gas to millions of customers in New York. If you are in Con Ed’s service territory, you may want to know how to contact Con Ed if you have problems with your electricity or gas service when the snow hits. Here is some information on how to contact the utility to report emergencies and outages this winter or to ask questions regarding your Con Ed service or bill.

Gas Emergencies

If you smell gas or think there may be a gas leak, leave the premises immediately and take others with you. If the odor is faint, open windows before you leave. Once outside, continue moving away from the premises until you can no longer smell gas and make sure not to do anything that could create a spark that could cause an explosion, such as lighting a match, turning on a car or ringing a door bell.

Once you have followed these directions, call Con Ed at 800.75.CONED (800.752.-6633). National Grid customers should call .718.643.4050.

Electrical Emergencies

For electrical emergencies, such as fallen wires: 800.75.CONED (800.752.6633) or https://apps1.coned.com/csol/reportoutage.asp

Electric Service Problems

For electric service problems, such as outages: https://apps1.coned.com/csol/reportoutage.asp

Customer Service Questions

If you’re a Spark Energy customer and you have a question about your gas or electric rate plan or renewal options, call us at 877.547.7275. However, if you have other questions or concerns about your Con Ed bill: 800.75.CONED (800.752.6633). Have your account number available when you call.

Telecommunications for the Deaf

Hearing impaired customers may contact Con Ed directly through its TDD/TTY service: 800.642.2308.

New York City Public Schools Save Millions by Embracing Energy Efficiency

Wednesday November 16, 2011
Posted at 14:25

At least one public school district in New York City already has a simple plan for fighting high energy costs this fall.

As its first line of defense against high energy bills, Mount Sinai School District on Long Island says it leaves simple yellow Post-it notes with the message “When not in use, turn off the juice” on classroom computers, printers and air conditioners. The district says the tactic saves them $350,000 annually on utility bills.

The district appointed assistant high school principal Chris Heil to police hallways and classrooms to root out energy waste one offender at a time. Heil inspects 100 classrooms a day and uses the Post-it note “tickets” as a way to change teacher behavior and encourage compliance with district energy policy.

Heil sometimes shows up at 4 a.m. to make sure custodial staff turned off the lights and goes through storage closets to locate switches that shut down rooftop exhaust fans that run continuously. According to Heil, that single-minded attention to efficiency has cut the district’s utility costs 30 percent since 2007.

But Mount Sinai isn’t the only school district in New York City that has embraced energy efficiency to save money off monthly bills. In fact, energy consumption by the city’s 1,245 school buildings has decreased by 11 percent since 2008, spurred by soaring energy costs, tighter budgets and the desire to practice the environmentally friendly principals that they teach their students.

In Yonkers, energy efficiency policies have provided dramatic relief from shrinking budgets. By working with its schools to save energy, the Westchester County School District was able to finance $18 million in new boilers, windows and other capital improvements that it wouldn’t have otherwise been able to afford. At Lincoln High School, its 60-year-old boilers had been burning 137,500 gallons of heating oil a year. The new, more efficient boilers burn just 80,000 gallons.

The city is also providing some incentives. Mayor Michael Bloomberg awarded $100,000 to schools that voluntarily cut their energy use during a month-long competition in May. The competition was part of the administration’s campaign to reduce the municipal government’s energy use and carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2017.

With the help of energy consultants, New York City school officials are evaluating every detail of their operations, including things like regulating the temperature of swimming pools to replacing inefficient cafeteria ovens with energy efficient models. On Long Island, for example, 60 of the 125 districts have committed to reducing energy use by 20 percent to 40 percent annually. The push for energy efficiency is so extensive that energy consultants Johnson Controls, Trane and Energy Education reported that their school business had grown at least a third since 2006.

The energy efficiency drive by New York City school districts has also spread next door to New Jersey. Since 2009, the schools in Holmdel Township have decreased their electric and gas bills by half to about $1 million annually, representing a savings of 3.5 million kilowatts and 240,000 therms.

William Balicki, Holmdel’s energy manager, said he was able to achieve such savings by strictly regulating thermostats and installing automatic timers on outdoor lights in school parking lots and district bus yards that had previously stayed on long after drivers left. Although Balicki considered installing motion sensors on classroom lights, he opted instead for $75 worth of stickers that he could post above light switches to remind teachers to turn them off.

To people like Heil and Balicki, who are on the front lines of the energy efficiency crusade, Post-it notes and stickers go a long way to preventing energy waste. They see people’s behavior as the root cause of energy inefficiency and, therefore, people must be the ones responsible for fixing the problem. “Anytime we can ask people to physically [save energy], we do,” Balicki said. “This is pretty much a people-based program. It’s changing behavior.”

Sources

With Post-Its and Checklists, Schools Cut Their Energy Bills,” The New York Times, Aug. 14, 2011.

How Long Will the Power Be Out After Hurricane Irene?

Wednesday August 31, 2011
Posted at 11:05

Ahead of the storm, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano noted that, "we do anticipate a significant amount of power outages with this particular storm." A FEMA Administrator agreed, saying that strong winds and flash flooding were expected to impact those inland as well as along the coast.

With some estimates that over 4 million homes and businesses were without power in the wake of Hurricane Irene across the Eastern Seaboard, we can see that predictions of mass power outages across the region came true for many.

Hurricane Irene Heavily Impacted the Electric Grid

A US Department of Energy report released Monday morning collected data from utilities’ outage information and helped give us an overall view of the impact of Hurricane Irene:

  1. Rhode Island – 64% of customers out
  2. Connecticut – 44% of customers out
  3. Maryland – 22% of customers out
  4. New Jersey – 20% of customers out
  5. New Hampshire – 20% of customers out
  6. Massachusetts – 19% of customers out
  7. Virginia – 19% of customers out
  8. New York – 12% of customers out

Please continue to report outages – utility systems can locate generalized outages, but it can be difficult to pinpoint specific outage locations. To find contact information for your utility, see our list here.

When Will My Power Be Back On? How Many People are Still Out?

Philadelphia: 225,000 were without power in Eastern Pennsylvania on Monday, according to PECO. Bucks County reports 81,000 outages; Delaware County 64,000; Chester County 57,000; Montgomery County 14,000; and Philadelphia County 9,000 outages. PECO says they’ve already restored power to 300,000 customers and that 90% of the remaining outages should be repaired by Today. The remainder can expect their power to be back on before the weekend. SEPTA reports having three train routes out: Cynwyd, Trenton, and Paoli/Malvern. The Norristown line is reported to have begun running Monday afternoon. UPDATE: PECO now reports 47,000 out of power on Wednesday morning throughout the region.

New York City: More than 106,000 of ConEdison’s 3.2 million customers remained without power as of Monday afternoon. ConEdison intentionally cut electricity to some of its service area prior to the storm due to expected saltwater inundation of electrical equipment. ConEdison estimates that most customers in New York City will have power returned by Tuesday and most Westchester County residents should be restored by Thursday. ConEdison is supplying dry ice in several locations to help keep food refrigerated. MTA trains and busses were almost back up to normal by early Monday morning, including the Staten Island Train starting back up Sunday night. UPDATE: 32,000 outages are reported Tuesday evening. ConEdison says 83% of customers have been restored.

Long Island: The Long Island Power Authority said 400,000 customers were without power on Monday. 90% of these homes and businesses can expect to have power by Friday, with the remainder restored by the weekend or early next week, according to a LIPA representative. UPDATE: 190,000 are still out of power on Long Island in Nassau and Suffolk counties, about 16% of all customers. "Irene left behind a level of damage that we have not seen on Long Island in almost 30 years," the public utility said.

New Jersey: 715,000 utility customers were reportedly without power Monday morning across the state. 60,000 of those being within the PSE&G service territory. Crews with PSE&G are prioritizing downed lines and other emergencies. PSE&G and Jersey Central Power & Light said that rivers must recede before service can be restored. "That takes days," PSE&G spokeswoman Karen Johnson said. "The flooding is kind of overwhelming." UPDATE: PSE&G reports 74,000 customers out, about 4% of its 2.1 million customers. Jersey Central Power & Light still shows 187,000 outages – about 20% of their 1.1 million customers. "Currently there are 200 poles and almost 40 miles of wire that need to be replaced before we complete our restoration," said JCP&L spokesman Ron Morano.

Connecticut: 594,000 CL&P customers and 107,000 UI customers were out of power at noon on Monday. Connecticut Light & Power had restored 163,000 customers and a spokesman said that crews had responded to hospitals and police/emergency facilities first. The 770,000 outages at the height of the storm set a new record, breaking the previous record of 477,000 outages after Hurricane Gloria in 1985. Governor Malloy and CL&P officials said that it could be a week before customers get their power back on. "This is just unprecedented," the utility's spokesman, David Radanovich, said. "The largest storm we've ever faced." UPDATE: 370,000 utility customers still remain out of power in Connecticut – 308,000 of which are CL&P customers. 62,000 United Illuminating customers are out as of Wednesday.

Baltimore: Approximately 139,000 customers within the Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) territory were out of power as of Monday. About 680,000 lost power at some point during Irene, with 466,000 being the highest number of simultaneous outages. BGE has restored power to 327,000 customers in less than 48 hours and expects to restore the majority of the remainder of outages by late Friday. Isolated outages may remain until Saturday. "Just lots of trees down," said Linda Foy with Baltimore Gas & Electric. "We've got whole trees knocked into equipment; large limbs the size of small trees hanging on power lines." UPDATE: 155,800 outages still exist for BGE customers, as of 6am Wednesday. BGE spokesman Rob Gould told WBAL-TV that most customers should get electricity back on today.

Delmarva Peninsula: 40,000 Delmarva Power customers were reported out of power Monday. At the height of the storm, about 220,000 customers were without power and the company expects to restore power to the majority of these customers by Wednesday. UPDATE: Delmarva Power says that about 5,000 customers are still out of power as of midnight, Wednesday. About 97% of the 164,000 who had lost power have been restored.

Washington DC: 71,000 power outages still exist in the PEPCO service territory as of Monday, including about 16,000 in Montgomery County; 44,000 in Prince George’s County; and 21,000 in Washington D.C. PEPCO said customers can expect power to be on by Thursday evening, but most customers can expect the power to be on sooner. UPDATE: As of Tuesday afternoon, PEPCO reported about 4,000 customers still out in Prince George’s County. "We will be done by Thursday at 7 p.m.," says Thomas Graham, Pepco president. "All customers will be restored. That's the goal we're shooting for. The vast majority of our customers will be restored before then."

Boston: 500,000 customers in the region lost power at the height of the storm. National Grid reports about 325,000 outages and NStar is reporting 200,000 outages as of Monday afternoon. “The damage is so extensive that in many places, we essentially have to re-build the electric system so we can restore power to customers,” said Werner Schweiger, NStar’s senior vice president of operations. “Given the sheer amount of work to be done, we know this will be a very time-consuming process.” UPDATE: About 108,000 outages still exist in Massachusetts towns according to National Grid on Wednesday. NStar reports 37,000 customers offline in the South Shore and Cape Cod areas.

Virginia: 270,000 customers in the Richmond area were still out of power Monday afternoon. Dominion Virginia Power has said it plans to have 75 percent of customers restored by Today, and 90-95 percent restored by Friday. Remaining outages should be repaired by Saturday. UPDATE: 180,000 in central Virginia remain without power, about 40% of the Richmond and Tri-City areas. 69,501 customers have been restored according to Dominion Virginia Power. Dominion spokesman Chet Wade said that they’re ahead of pace to meet their Friday goal of restoring power to all customers.

Rhode Island: 282,000 National Grid customers in Rhode Island are reportedly in the dark as of Monday Morning. The state was the most heavily impacted by Hurricane Irene, with 64% of customers out of power. UPDEATE: 113,000 were still reported out of power by Wednesday morning. "What you see here is a 24 hour operation with more than 1,000 people restoring power here in Rhode Island. We're getting customers back as quick as we can," Tim Horan, President of National Grid.

Vermont: 37,500 of 55,000 Central Vermont Public Service customers were still without electricity as of 7 a.m. Monday morning. “We have a tremendous roster of workers to assist us, but this will be one of the most challenging recovery efforts any of us has ever lived through,” said Joe Kraus, senior vice president for engineering, operations and customer service. Kraus said that customers should be prepared for extended outages, as roads and bridges in some areas are still impassable. UPDATE: 14,300 customers are still report off the grid as of Wednesday morning.

New Hampshire: 5,300 customers in the New Hampshire Electric Co-op territory were still without power on Monday, down from a high of 32,000 on Sunday night. Estimated restoration times range from noon Tuesday to noon Wednesday. UPDATE: Public Service Co. of New Hampshire reported 29,000 outages at noon on Tuesday, and New Hampshire Electroc Co-op is reporting 1,600 remaining. National Grid is reporting 11 outages, and Unitil has restored all New Hampshire customers.

Maine: 149,000 customers in Maine were reportedly still out of power Monday afternoon, with 137,000 customers of Central Maine Power, and 12,000 Bangor Hydro-Electric customers in the dark. Utility crews from Canada joined Maine’s own utility crews to help restore power. Maine Public Service customers had all power restored to all customers by late Monday. UPDATE: 44,000 Central Maine Power customers remain out of power Wednesday morning. Bangor Hydro reports less than 270 customers without power.

Sources

"Power outages continue across Maryland" - Baltimore Business Journal, August 29, 2011.
"Power Outages, Trains Biggest Irene Issues" - myfoxphilly.com, August 29, 2011.
"Is Con Edison Doing Enough to Repair Power in Your Area?" - White Plains Patch, August 29, 2011.
"4M without power as Hurricane Irene heads north" - Associated Press, August 28, 2011.
"Napolitano warns of many power outages from Irene" - Reuters, August 26, 2011.
"In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, flooding, power outages and road closures are causing headaches" - Newark Star-Ledger, August 29, 2011.
"Hurricane Irene still has 225,000 Peco customers powerless" - Philadelphia Business Journal, August 29, 2011.
"BGE expects to restore most service by Friday" - abc2news.com, August 29, 2011.
"HURRICANE: Delmarva Power continues restoration efforts" - delmarvanow.com, August 29, 2011.
"Post-Irene power, transport problems linger in MD, D.C." - Reuters, August 29, 2011.
"Lights Coming Back on For Some" - Groton Patch, August 29, 2011.
"Power outages, flooding from Irene in Massachusetts" - USA Today, August 29, 2011.
"Thousands without power, bridges closed as state cleans up after Irene" - Bangor Daily News, August 29, 2011.
"Irene Leaves Western Towns Flooded, Thousands Without Power" - thebostonchannel.com, August 29, 2011.
"After the storm, towns steamed at utilities’ slow response" - Herald News, August 29, 2011.
"CVPS: Full restoration of 37,500 outages statewide could take weeks" - vtdigger.com, August 29, 2011.
"UPDATE: Dominion says 90-95% of outages to be fixed by Friday" - Richmond Times-Dispatch, August 29, 2011.
"BGE: 80% Of Power Back On For Customers" -wbaltv.com, August 31, 2011.

How Con Ed Uses Smart Thermostats to Control ACs and Save Energy in an Emergency

Monday August 29, 2011
Posted at 08:09

When Thomas Edison started Edison Electric Illuminating Company of New York in 1882, it supplied electricity to 59 customers in a square mile area in lower Manhattan. Almost 130 years later, the company’s descendent, Consolidated Edison Company of New York Inc. (Con Ed), is one of the largest public utilities in the United States, supplying electricity to three million residents throughout the New York City metro area.

There are a few issues when it comes to providing enough electricity for three million people. One of those issues is how to deal with a surge in electricity use, since electricity can’t be stored and has to be supplied to the electric grid continuously every day.

For example, when Con Ed set records for peak electricity use in early August, consumption surged because people ran their air conditioners harder in order to beat back a sweltering heat wave that baked much of the country. In all, the electric utility said that more than 1 trillion watt hours of electricity were consumed over a four-day period, which is roughly the equivalent to the amount of electricity that Vermont uses in two months.

To help with electricity supply issues derived from surges in consumption similar to the four-day period earlier this month, Con Ed has implemented a plan that allows it to remotely control the central air conditioners of some customers. Con Ed installs “smart” thermostats in the homes of those who agree to have them that provide the utility with the ability to cycle connected air conditioners on and off.

The 5 Steps of Con Ed’s Energy-Saving Smart Thermostat Plan

1. Recruiting — The first thing Con Ed has to do is convince New Yorkers to sign up for the program, which allows the utility to switch their central air conditioning off at its discretion. The electric utility provides the smart thermostat, which can be programmed by smartphone, for free. Other incentives include a $25 rebate check for residences and a $50 check for small businesses, as well as the promise of saving money on electric bills. So far, 23,600 electric customers have signed up for the program.

2. Monitoring — Con Ed continuously analyzes weather models at its Manhattan headquarters 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Additionally, the utility’s offices in the boroughs continually monitor the status of underground power equipment. When an event, such as an overloaded transformer, triggers an alert code, a network map displays the affected area in yellow, orange or red, depending on the severity of the problem.

3. Escalating — Once an alert code has been triggered, Con Ed responds with a heightened awareness and watches for further developments. If a significant ongoing event occurs, such as another massive heat wave like the one earlier in August that threatened the stability of the entire grid, the utility sets up a situation room to coordinate emergency measures. According to Con Ed, its situation rooms are designed to be used where they’re most needed and can be set up virtually anywhere.

4. Making the Call — When there’s a power emergency, Con Ed uses individual commanders to manage the emergency in 12-hour shifts. If the decision is made to cycle customers’ central air conditioners off and on to save power, the utility uses its “implementation contractor” to send shut-down and start-up commands via radio signals to tens of thousands of smart thermostats.

5. Shutting Down and Starting Up Air Conditioners — Air conditioners are targeted in areas made up of neighborhoods. Once the decision is made to cycle customers’ air conditioners on and off, shut-down and start-up signals are sent every 30 minutes, resulting in a cycle of 30 minutes on, 30 minutes off. Each area that’s targeted for cycling can ease electricity demand by up to 33 megawatts. Although that amount is a fraction of the 13,000 megawatts used on a very hot day (the record set earlier in August was 13,189 megawatts), the utility says it’s enough to prevent overloads and blackouts.

Sources

How Con Ed Saves the Power Grid During Heat Waves,” Wired, July 26, 2011.

New York Public Utility Sets Record Electric Use as Heat Wave Continues

Monday August 1, 2011
Posted at 08:14

Con Ed says it has broken its own record for energy consumption during the summer heat wave

New York electric utility Consolidated Edison Company (Con Ed) reported breaking its own record for electric consumption as customers in its service territory turned on their air conditioners to beat back a heat wave that baked much of the country. Con Ed is one of the nation’s largest electric companies and includes almost all of New York City and most of Westchester County.

Electric consumption in Con Ed’s service territory peaked at 13,189 megawatts late afternoon on Friday, July 22, breaking the old weekday record of 13,149 megawatts set on Aug. 2, 2006. On Saturday, Con Ed also reported a peak electric consumption of 11,533 megawatts, breaking its previous weekend day record set on July 24, 2010.

In all, Con Ed reported that its customers used 1 trillion watt hours over a four-day period last week, which the public utility said was about the same amount of electricity Vermont uses in two months.

Public utilities in Illinois and Pennsylvania also reported record electric use last week due to broiling temperatures. Chicago’s Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) reported an all-time high late Wednesday of 23,753 megawatts, which broke its previous record of 23,618 megawatts set on Aug. 1, 2006. Philadelphia’s PECO Energy Company (PECO) reported an all-time high late Thursday of 8,943 megawatts, which broke its previous record of 8,932, also set in Aug. 2006.

Sources

ComEd Sets New Peak in Demand,” Commonwealth Edison Co. press release, July 21, 2011.

PECO Breaks Power Usage Record Amid High Heat,” WPVI-TV, July 22, 2011.

Deaths Tied to Heat: 64 People, Thousands of Cattle,” MSNBC, July 27, 2011.