Electric Choice in Alberta: What You Need To Know

Electric Choice in AlbertaYou probably don’t give it much thought – you just pay your electricity bill every month and be done with it. You’ve heard that some people switch suppliers, but you’re not sure that they actually save money. What about distribution and line charges? Don’t you have to pay extra service fees for the new supplier? Isn’t the paperwork a hassle? Before you write off switching to a new supplier, do some research. You might be surprised by how much you can save, and how easy it is to switch.

Can I Save Money?

The only real reason to switch suppliers, assuming you’re happy with the customer service, is energy rates. Depending on where you live in Alberta, you might be able to save money by switching electric suppliers, though there’s no guarantee of it. With no rate caps, the number of suppliers serving small businesses and residential areas has increased substantially.

An electric supplier might also be willing to negotiate on price or other services to make the offer more attractive.

What Is A Supplier vs A Distributor?

Electric suppliers supply electricity to your home. In Alberta, there are three different parties involved in the industry. First is the generation of electricity, then the transmission, then the distribution. Generation is the production of electricity, while transmission is the movement of that power to distribution centers. Finally, distribution takes that power and delivers it to homes and businesses.

When you switch suppliers, you are changing who generates the power for you. The transmission and distribution remain the same. Organizations like Alberta Energy Providers Grande Prairie  can help you see who supplies power in your area. While not every place in Alberta offers multiple suppliers, most places give you several choices.

How To Shop For A Supplier

All you have to do is search for suppliers in your area either through a consolidated database online, or use a search engine to locate suppliers in your area. Next, just call up every company you might be interested in and ask for rates. When you find a company you like, ask about making the switch. Most energy suppliers will handle the paperwork for you.

What Questions To Ask

It’s not always obvious what you should be asking a new supplier – especially if you’ve never done this before. The first thing you want to know is whether the supplier is licensed. You also want to know what the price per kilowatt hour (kWh) is. Also ask if the price is fixed or driven by time of day or usage.

Some suppliers will charge off-peak rates after a certain hour. Others have just a flat rate for service. Still others use total energy usage to determine rates.

Make sure you understand how taxes are assessed. Are they included in the supplier’s price or are they added to it? What is the length of the service contract? Most suppliers will make you sign one – you should understand the terms and conditions of your agreement. Find out if the supplier offers a choice of energy – i.e. traditional vs “green” electric. Find out if the new supplier offers budget billing and whether you’ll receive one bill or two (i.e. one from your supplier and one from your distributor).

Finally, ask about any special promotions or discounts for signing up. They aren’t always advertised, but they could save you a bundle and make the switch worthwhile.

Dale Hooper hs worked in the energy industry in Alberta. He enjoys sharing his insights online.

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