I’ve been getting this stupid 800 number phone call for a couple of months now and just ignored it. It was coming in on my business line, which made it kind of easy to dismiss, and they never left a message. But it’s been getting on my nerve so finally I decided to answer it to tell these people to leave me alone.

It turns out the calls were coming from National Grid, or so I’ve kind of assumed. They have a new program out they’re calling the New Choices® program, which supposedly is their way of helping us to save money on the costs of transporting energy to us. Supposedly it’s been listed on my energy bill but because I hadn’t followed up on it they started calling. Since I just paid my bill I don’t have one laying around so I can’t confirm that, but it would seem strange for them to lie to me on this point.

Anyway, here’s the basics of the program, which are slightly different than what was listed on the website. For 2 months I get an 8% reduction on my supplier costs, then after that, for 22 months, I get a revolving rate of savings that are supposed to be less than what National Grid’s normal rate is.

Why do we worry about supplier costs? Some people might not remember the summer of 2009, when the weather was fairly temperate across the board and thus not all that many people were using air conditioning. Suddenly people were being charged higher rates for the supplier costs than the energy they were using because National Grid said it was costing them more to supply whatever energy we “weren’t” using. Stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in general, but the truth is that they set their rates based on perceived usage for their profit statements, and if people aren’t using what they expect then, on an accounting level, they start losing money. And they’re not just going to sit there losing money.

So, with the promise of an 8% reduction during the coldest part of the year, I agreed, but I was also hesitant. The last time I signed up for anything like this it was for someone else to supply my gas and electric, and my bills, after a few months, went up drastically. I found that, at that time, if I’d stayed with National Grid I would have saved around 20%, and indeed, when I dropped the other company and switched, it came to at least that much in savings for me.

As I was talking to the woman she could sense I was a little leery; I even asked some questions. It seems that this deal, even though it’s considered as part of National Grid, is with a company called Spark Energy. That didn’t give me the warm and fuzzies. So, my deal, which I’m assuming everyone gets if they have any questions at all, is thus. They usually charge $4.95 a month processing fee; I got that waived. They also usually charge a $50 cancellation fee if one decides they’re being taken for a ride and wants out; they’re canceling that as well. They’re going to send me something in the mail, which will take 48 hours or so to get here, and then I have 3 days to decide if I want to cancel or not, but with the cancellation fees waived, I can cancel at any time if I so choose.

I figure that sometimes we have to fight our inner skeptic and take a shot. This one could easily save us Syracuse residents some cash if it’s legitimate, and as I’m sitting here writing this and it’s just gotten above zero for the first time, I’m thinking a little relief so I can try to stay warm isn’t such a bad thing.

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