Terms to know.

There are several terms and phrases that utility companies, suppliers and regulatory authorities, such as the Public Service Commission, frequently use when it comes to energy. We encourage you to familiarize yourself with these terms before comparing offers or switching suppliers to make a more informed decision.
 

Terms to know.

There are several terms and phrases that utility companies, suppliers and regulatory authorities, such as the Public Service Commission, frequently use when it comes to energy. We encourage you to familiarize yourself with these terms before comparing offers or switching suppliers to make a more informed decision.
Aggregator

A person or organization acting on behalf of customers to purchase energy. Consumers can join a group that buys energy and an aggregator brings those customers together. A large buying group may be able to get a better price for the group members than one could get on their own. This buying power may also allow aggregators to negotiate for additional benefits for the group’s members, such as consolidated billing, energy management services and energy use analysis.

Aggregators are similar to brokers, a person who acts as an agent or intermediary in the sale and purchase of electricity, but brokers don’t take title to electricity.

Cramming

The practice of adding services or charges to a customer’s existing retail energy service options without the express consent of the customer.

Fixed rate

A plan with a fixed rate has a set supply charge per electricity kWh that doesn't change throughout the contract period. Although your price per kWh for electricity supply will not change during your contract period, there can still be changes in your transmission and distribution rates, taxes or other fees not controlled by your energy supplier.

Flat /non-volumetric rate

A fixed charge for goods and services that does not vary as the amount used, volume consumed or units purchased change.

Kilowatt-hour (kWh)

The basic unit of electric energy for which most customers are charged in cents per kilowatt-hour. A kilowatt-hour is the equivalent of using 10 100-watt light bulbs for one hour.

Load

The amount of electric power required to meet customers' use in a given time period.

Net energy metering

The difference between the kilowatt-hours consumed by a customer-generator and the kilowatt-hours generated by the customer-generator’s facility over any time period determined as if measured by a single meter capable of registering the flow of electricity in two directions.

Slamming

The practice of switching, or causing to be switched, a customer’s natural gas or electric supplier account without the express authorization of the customer.

Standard Offer Service (SOS)

Supply provided by the incumbent electric utility to: 1) customers who do not choose an electricity supplier; 2) customers who cannot arrange to purchase electricity from an electricity supplier; and 3) customers who contract for electricity with an electricity supplier, but who fail to receive delivery of electricity under such contracts.

Retail energy supplier / third-party supplier

A person, other than the SOS Administrator, including an aggregator, broker, or marketer, who generates electricity; sells electricity; or purchases, brokers, arranges or markets electricity for sale to customers.

Variable rate

Variable rate plans have no monthly contract or cancellation fee, but the rate you pay per kWh can vary from month to month. Your rate can go up or down based on the wholesale supply price and the discretion of your competitive electric supplier. Variable plans allow customers to benefit from falling market prices, but they also have an increased risk for higher rates if electricity prices spike due to natural disasters, cold winters or adverse market conditions. The rates different companies charge each month varies, but because customers can switch any time, companies have an incentive to keep their rates low.