titlecard-aarpJoin us for our third Google Hangout as we have a conversation about state laws  intended to help people weigh the risks and benefits of choosing a third-party electric supplier versus staying with the standard offer provided by your local utility, Eversource or United Illuminating.

Guests are Rep. Lonnie Reed, D-Branford, and Rep. Tim Ackert, R-Coventry, the co-chair and ranking member, respectively, of the Energy and Technology Committee, and John Erlingheuser of AARP. The host is Mark Pazniokas of CT Mirror.

The General Assembly has passed laws requiring greater transparency in the retail electric market and banning variable rates – the low teasers that some retailers used to get customers, only to quickly raise their rate. Comparison shopping is now possible on the official rate board at the state’s web site, EnergizeCT.com.

Shop carefully. Some retailers are offering rates cheaper than the standard offer, but they charge an enrollment fee of up to $149 that can quickly eat up savings, which might be just a few dollars a month.

The standard offers of Eversource and UI are dropping on July 1, meaning most residential customers would have to shop carefully to find savings in the retail market.

You can only shop for the generation supply portion of your bill, which is about half your monthly electric costs. The rest is a set price to cover the cost of the distribution network.

In addition to the rate board, take a close look at your electric bill. If you are doing business with a third-party retailer, the bill will compare the retailer’s price to the standard offer and show the rate for the next billing cycle.

This is the third of three Mirror Google Hangouts, sponsored by AARP, dealing with issues of public interest.

Andrew Ba Tran

Andrew is a former data editor at TrendCT.org and The Connecticut Mirror. He taught data visualization at Central Connecticut State University as well intro to data journalism at Wesleyan University as a Koeppel Fellow. He was a founding producer of The Boston Globe's Data Desk where he used a variety of methods to visualize or tell stories with data. Andrew also was an online producer at The Virginian-Pilot and a staff writer at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. He’s a Metpro Fellow, a Chips Quinn Scholar, and a graduate of the University of Texas.

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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