Increased competition from electricity suppliers has pushed down rates for residential consumers living in the JCPL electric grid territory. Jersey Central Power & Light provides electricity to over 977,000 residential and 128,000 commercial customers throughout central New Jersey. The company generates revenues from regulated power distribution charges, however they are also responsible for charging a default rate for power supply to customers who do not choose a competitive electricity rate. The default rate gives consumers a benchmark from which to measure competitive offers which they receive from alternative suppliers.
Two years ago competitive rates were offering attractive savings against the JCPL default rate. Towards the end of 2014 and the first half of 2015, those savings shrunk as competitive suppliers found it difficult to offer attractive prices due to conditions in the wholesale energy markets. However, recently conditions have approved allowing suppliers to once again offer rates that are more than 9% lower than the JCPL price to compare offer, which changes twice a year. The JCPL default rate went up for small homes on October 1, 2015. The default rate change for larger homes was minimal, however all households who are on the default rate can lower their JCPL electric bill by finding a competitive rate offer.
Despite the minimal savings available over the last year, JCPL continues to lead all New Jersey utilities in electricity choice shopping activity. As of August 16.9% of residential customers were purchasing their power supply from a competitive electricity company, compared to just 9.2% in the larger PSEG service area. JCPL also is leading in the commercial market where 35.9% of all businesses are on a competitive rate plan compared to 27% statewide. Now that the savings amounts have actually increased, it is likely that the number of JCPL customers who participate in energy shopping activity will also increase.