Picking an electricity or natural gas supplier just got a little easier.
The state Public Service Commission has set up an energy supply guide on its Web site to help consumers compare estimated monthly bills from utilities, such as National Fuel Gas and Niagara Mohawk, with the cost of services offered by other suppliers.
But the information on the Web site is far from complete, with some suppliers not providing details on their prices. PSC officials cautioned consumers that they should treat the information on the Web site as a starting point in their efforts to pick a gas or electricity supplier.
PSC officials also warned that prices can change, which makes it even more important that consumers check with the suppliers for more detailed and updated information about pricing and other services that may be available.
The Web site, www.askpsc.com, will be updated monthly with information that is provided voluntarily by the companies.
"We can't compel them, or order them to give us the information," said Edward Collins, a PSC spokesman.
For example, the Web site says a National Fuel customer using 20,000 cubic feet of gas a month could expect to pay an estimated monthly bill of $222.94. The chart lists three other suppliers offering fixed price programs that all would be more expensive than National Fuel's listed price.
But the four other suppliers listed in the comparison also offer variable pricing options that, in many cases, would have been lower than National Fuel's estimated monthly charge. Variable rate plans charge different prices each month, rising and falling with natural gas prices.
On the electric side, the site lists prices for only two suppliers in the Niagara Mohawk service territory, ranging from NiMo's estimated monthly bill of $66.51 for a customer using 500 kilowatt hours a month to ProEnergy's estimated monthly price of $62.78. The other seven listed suppliers described their offerings only as variable price options.
New York State Electric and Gas Corp. customers, who are facing a Dec. 31 deadline for choosing a supplier, have four options from the utility, along with a number of options from five other suppliers.
The guide also is available through the mail by calling (888) 275-7721.