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Following energy issues in the state of Connecticut and beyond.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Limited Time Offer....


Maybe I've been watching too much late night television or too many infomercials, but the I've always been suspicious of the term "limited time offer."

To my way of thinking, the idea behind the limited time offer is to create a sense of urgency that would not otherwise be there.

The term is one that is usually invoked by retailers. So imagine my surprise a few days ago when I received an e-mail from Con Edison Solutions offering - you guessed it, a "limited time offer" -on prices that consumers pay for renewable energy.

Typically, consumers pay a little more for power from renewable sources like solar and wind power. But Con Edison Solutions says it is offering rates for renewable energy that are lower than the standard rates that customers of Connecticut Light & Power and The United Illuminating Co. pay for energy that doesn't come from a renewable resource.

The hitch is that the company is requiring customers to sign up by July 31 for the lower renewable energy rates.

What troubles me about the way this offer is being presented -aside from the fact that the rate the company is offering isn't mentioned in the press release - is that it fails to take into account that most consumers consider switching power providers to be a momentous undertaking. It requires a great deal of thought and research for the average consumer; It's not like switching brands of coffee or toothpaste.

And yet, Con Edison Solutions is out there on July 22 - just nine days before the company's self-imposed deadline - pitching this idea for a story. In an e-mail, a spokeswoman for the company explains that the lower price is only in effect until the end of the month "when new rates could make green power less favorable. "

There's no question that price of energy fluctuates. The per gallon price of gasoline, for example, is now falling after increasing for much of the spring and summer.

But at least when it comes to shopping for a lower price for gasoline, all a consumer has to do is drive down the road to the next service station. Changing electric power providers is far more complicated and elaborate proposition.

Consumers who still want to check out this limited time offer can click on this link: http://www.conedsolutions.com/.

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