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Few New York Utility Customers Shop Around for Lowest Price

By Associated Press

Buffalo, NY – New Yorkers may complain about electric and natural gas bills, but state officials say few have used the chance to shop around for a better rate.

State Public Service Commission Chairman William Flynn this week said just six percent of residential consumers have switched companies since deregulation began in 1996. Some lawmakers and consumer groups say that's because utility customers have no easy way to compare costs.

The federal Energy Information Administration reports New York's electric rates are the second highest in the nation, behind Hawaii.

Flynn said 55 percent of industrial and large commercial customers have switched energy providers. He said more than 60 energy service companies compete for business in New York, compared with just four before deregulation began.

The PSC is holding energy fairs to help residential consumers know their options. They'll also be getting inserts in their bills explaining their options for shopping around for service.