Bruce Germano, the Long Island Power Authority's vice president of customer services, wrote that there are no energy services companies "willing to serve residential customers, because no ESCO has been able to provide a better price for Long Islanders than what LIPA offers" ["LIPA would welcome a rival provider for home customers," Letter, Feb. 3].
Moreover, he touted three of these outside energy marketers "willing to serve our commercial customers."
Compare this level of retail energy competition to neighboring Con Edison. According to the New York Public Service Commission's website, 97 ESCOs compete to serve Con Ed commercial customers and 74 ESCOs serve its residential customers. That is competition that works for the consumer and offers real choice.
Long Islanders should ask the obvious questions: What can LIPA do to encourage greater retail competition? What can LIPA do to remove the structural barriers that hinder ESCOs from entering the LIPA market?
LIPA needs to level the playing field. We wholeheartedly agree with Germano's statement that "competition is a good thing." We therefore encourage LIPA to enter into a constructive dialogue and collaborative process with the ESCO industry and other key stakeholders to advance retail energy choice that benefits Long Island residents and businesses.
If LIPA officials are serious about promoting retail energy choice, they need to consider instituting many of the same market-enabling measures that other regulated utilities have established throughout the state. These include giving ESCOs timely access to customer usage information, consolidated billing, and consumer education on retail energy choice.
These measures are the structural underpinnings of a truly competitive retail energy environment, and essential to promoting choice as an economically attractive option for consumers who want more control over their energy bills.
In a competitive marketplace, customers can obtain and assess offers from various ESCOs, compare their benefits to the LIPA power supply charge and choose the combination of products and services that best meet their needs.
Energy retailers like Direct Energy are ready and willing to serve LIPA customers, if LIPA is ready to get serious about instituting the measures that have been successfully implemented by many of their neighbors. Let Long Island residents enjoy savings and innovative products and services. It's the right thing to do, and consumers deserve the chance to say yes to competition.
Editor's note: The writer is general manager of Direct Energy Marketing Ltd.