With record cold weather and volatile wholesale electric prices driving the market to unseen levels, electric customers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New England, Texas, and other areas open to competition need to check their electric rate to make sure that they are still getting a good deal.
While higher electric rates were expected this winter -- especially in New England where natural gas supplies are constrained -- the once-in-100 years nature of the December polar vortex, followed by record January lows, has simply brought the electric market into uncharted territory.
That means that the electricity purchasing strategy you had heading into the winter may not be the most favorable for your business any longer. You may have made decisions on your electricity procurement based on expectations and risks of a normal winter, or even a slightly harsher-than-normal winter -- but nobody could have predicted the sustained cold, and record wholesale pricing, that much of the country has seen.
Depending on their hedging and risk mitigation strategy, retail electric suppliers may have had to pay 10 to 20 times more for their power supplies over the past two months versus their expectations and budgeting. That means they'll eventually have to pass these higher, unanticipated costs onto you.
Some media reports have quoted customers as seeing rates as high as 20¢ to 25¢ per kilowatt-hour for electricity due to the record cold weather -- when normal rates are in the 6¢ to 9¢ range, depending on state and utility.
This means that customers have to be diligent in checking their electric rate, to ensure that they are still getting the lowest rate.