Nevada approves Utility.com for electric service

The Nevada Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved Utility.com last week to receive a license as an "alternate seller" of electric service to the state's 900,000 households and small businesses beginning in March 2000.

Utility.com, an Internet-based energy service provider, will begin marketing services and signing up customers before the end of the year, said Chris King, chief executive officer of the Albany, Calif.-based company. "We offer savings on electricity through the convenience of Internet-based choices for service."

Some of the choices Utility.com offers include making payments electronically or with a credit card, allowing customers to select what day of the month to receive billing, offering "green" power from reusable resources and making off-peak hour discounts made possible through the company's meters.

Utility.com customers will receive an electric meter that computes and displays peak and off-peak power usage, King said. Customers will be able to track and manage their usage online.

The company's partners in Nevada include Nevada Power and Sierra Pacific Power, which will delivery the energy. "The state is always looking for potential competitors," said Dick Burdette, acting manager of regulatory policy for the Nevada Public Utility Commission staff. "We're delighted to have them."

Utility.com already offers service in California and expects 50,000 subscribers there by the end of the year. The company did not have any specific customer estimates for Nevada at this time.

King said applications also are being considered in Arizona, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and he hopes to offer service in all of those states by next year.

King said deregulation of the utility industry is spawning innovation among providers. "As competition unfolds, I think consumers are going to be surprised by the innovations they're going to be seeing," he said.

-- Dan Caterinicchia danc@civic.com

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