Energy choice Q&A

Energy Choice questions and answers about:

  • Prices
  • How to Participate
  • Service Providers
  • Consumer Rights and Protections

Questions About Prices

Will I save money?
There are no guarantees that a customer who switches suppliers will save money. However, customers can improve their chances of saving money by becoming knowledgeable about their energy usage. When considering competing offers, you should understand how you use energy, when you use it, and what you currently pay for it. That puts you in the best position to shop for the offer that best satisfies your needs.

Will Energy Choice lead to a power crisis like California had?
Virginia has learned from California and other states that are further along in their efforts to develop a competitive energy supply. The Commonwealth wants to avoid the mistakes that have been made in some other states and build on the successes. Here’s how Virginia is different.

Questions about How to Participate

Do I have to change?
No, but you should be open to any offers that may be right for you. Once you’ve considered your options, compared prices, and evaluated services, you may decide to try a new supplier or continue with your current local distribution company.

When will customer choice begin?
Consumers in some parts of Virginia are already able to choose their providers, while most others will wait until energy choice rolls out across the state over the next several years. Click here for the current phase-in timeline.

What exactly will I be choosing?
You will be able to choose the company that generates, produces, or contracts for the energy you need. In other words, the company has the electricity or natural gas to competitively sell to you. Delivering it to your home will remain the responsibility of the local distribution company whose “delivery-only” service will still be regulated.

What will be different?
Currently, one local utility company has the exclusive right to provide electric or natural gas service within a specific geographic area in Virginia. The single company does it all – provides the energy, transmits it, and delivers it to your home. The rates charged and the service conditions are set by regulation.

In the future, you will have the opportunity to purchase electricity or natural gas from the energy service provider of your choice at prices and service conditions that are determined in a competitive market.

Questions about Service Providers

Click here for questions and answers about choosing a competitive service provider.

How will I know who might want my business?
The State Corporation Commission will provide lists of authorized competitive energy service providers in Virginia. You can also expect to hear directly from these companies by direct mail or telephone calls.

How do I know if the person or company that wants to sell me energy is legitimate?
Any company or individual providing electricity and natural gas in Virginia as a competitive energy supplier or marketer must be licensed by the State Corporation Commission. Before making a choice, make sure the supplier you choose is licensed. Click here for a list of questions you should ask competitive service providers.

What if I am asked to join a group who will line up a supplier for me?
This is called aggregation. An aggregator combines the energy needs of many small customers and negotiates an energy purchase on their behalf. An aggregator must also be licensed by the State Corporation Commission; however, there are exceptions for counties, cities, and towns that aggregate for consumers within their respective local boundaries.

How will I be billed for services?
In most cases, you will continue to get a bill from your local utility company that will include both the local utility’s distribution charges and your supplier’s production charges, including any transmission charges that apply. Click here for more information about your energy bill.

Questions about Consumer Rights and Protections

Do I have to agree to anything?
If you choose a competitive service provider, you will agree to and receive a contract. Make sure you read and understand all the terms and conditions. Don’t be pressured into a decision. And remember to ask the competitive service provider about the length of the contract, how the contract renews, and how you will be notified.

Can I cancel after I switch?
You have 10 days to change your mind without penalty. After that period, there may be a penalty fee if you cancel your contract before it ends. And after doing this, you may either choose service from another competitive service provider or return to your local distribution company. If you return to the local distribution company, you may be required to stay for a specified period of time.

Can I choose not to choose?
Yes. You are not required to choose a new competitive service provider. If you want to stay with your local distribution company, you do not need to do anything. If you choose a new competitive service provider, it’s easy to switch. If you don’t choose a new competitive service provider, your current local distribution company will still continue to supply your energy.

What if my service gets changed without my okay?
It is illegal for a new competitive service provider to switch your service without your permission. If this happens, please contact the SCC’s Division of Energy Regulation at 1-800-552-7945 to lodge a complaint.

I am satisfied with the services of my local distribution company. How do I know that won’t change if I switch suppliers?
Your local distribution company will continue to provide delivery service of energy to your home. Choosing a different supplier shouldn’t make any difference.

Who do I call if I have a power outage or suspect a gas leak?
Your local distribution company, responsible for delivering electricity or natural gas, will continue to respond to service problems or safety issues. It continues to own and maintain the lines and pipes that carry energy to your home.

What if something happens and my supplier does not provide my energy to my local distribution company for delivery to me?
If a competitive service provider ceases to provide your electricity or natural gas for any reason, you will return to your local distribution company without interruption of service.

For additional information, please call Virginia Energy Choice toll-free at 1-877-YES2004, e-mail Virginia Energy Choice, or write Virginia Energy Choice c/o State Corporation Commission, P.O. Box 1197, Richmond, Virginia 23218.