BY BOB HOLT
Third-party energy suppliers have been selling electricity to homeowners since New Jersey deregulated its utilities over a decade ago. The state has long tried to encourage consumers to shop for electricity, and they are about to get another opportunity.
Constellation Energy is offering homeowners and renters in the Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G) and Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) service areas two ways to save on electricity: an 18-month pricing plan delivering an estimated savings of 10 percent compared to current utility pricing for electric generation service and a 30-month pricing plan offering an estimated 12 percent savings. Those who sign up for the 30-month plan will receive a $150 Target GiftCard; customers selecting the 18-month offer will receive a $75 Target GiftCard.
"Constellation is potentially a game changer," said Paul Fremont, an electric utilities analyst at Jefferies & Company, according to The Star-Ledger. "Their size could matter, because the cost for lining up (power) generation might be higher for others than it would be for them."
The Baltimore-based energy company, a leader in commercial wholesale and retail power, began selling electricity to residential customers for the first time earlier this year in Maryland.
According to lakewoodsvoice.com, Constellation is following another Fortune 500 powerhouse, Dominion Energy, which entered the residential electric market in New Jersey in May.
The typical PSE&G residential customer pays around $900 per year for electricity, according to the Newark-based utility, the state's largest. PSE&G said 51,000 of its residential electric customers - about 2.5 percent - have made the switch to a new supplier.
"Constellation Energy is a recognized leader in New Jersey's business and public sector energy market, and we proudly serve many of the state's largest employers and public institutions," said Kathleen Hyle, senior vice president and chief operating officer of the company's commercial division. "As a market leader in the state and nationwide, we're the logical choice for New Jersey residential electricity shoppers who are eager to save money by lowering their current electricity rate."
According to irconstellation.com, the company's direct mail offer to New Jersey homeowners and renters will begin arriving in mailboxes this weekend through Sept. 1, 2010. The Constellation Energy New Jersey residential pricing plans are limited time offers extending through Sept. 30, 2010. There is no sign-up or enrollment fee. There will be no interruption in a customer's electricity service.
Educating customers about electricity shopping is the biggest obstacle for companies like Constellation. NJ.com reports they are sending out 2.4 million pieces of direct mail, as well as taking out print, radio and rail station ads and setting up an Internet site and Facebook page.
Further information on the specific terms and conditions of the company's residential electricity pricing plans for New Jersey customers is available at home.newenergy.com.