McKee: Hundreds switched suppliers after launch of Empower RI site

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — When the Empower RI website launched in January, it promised Rhode Island customers a way to save money every month on their electric bills.

Call 12 For Action wanted to know how many people switched to competitive electricity suppliers on the site.

It turns out about 900 people made the change in the first quarter of 2016, meaning about 11 percent of National Grid customers use a competitive supplier for their electricity, according to figures provided by Lt. Gov. Dan McKee’s office.

McKee said he hopes the number grows in the future – because Rhode Islanders collectively could save millions.

According to McKee, he switched to a new supplier when the site went live.

“Within five minutes, I was saving 24% on that side of the bill,” he said.

According to new data we requested, those 900 customers switched suppliers in February and March, right after the site was launched.

“Nine-hundred is not bad in two months,” McKee said, adding that he expects the number to grow for both residential and commercial customers.

Here’s how it works: 

When you log onto the site, you can compare National Grid’s standard rate to rates of several other suppliers.

Right now, the estimated savings for a typical residential customer is more than $14 a month on several plans.

“They have the right to shop their electricity, just like they have the right to shop their gasoline and their milk or any other commodity that they would go out and purchase on a regular basis,” McKee said.

Before the new website launched, people could shop around but they risked pricey “standard offer billing and adjustments.”

Last year, complaints poured into our Call 12 For Action center when people changed their power companies and saw bigger bills. Now, those billings adjustments have been eliminated.

“They don’t have to fear that they’re going to get a billing adjustment – it’s very much vetted and it can save money,” McKee said.

If you want to shop around or learn more about competitive electric suppliers, click here.

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