Get the real story on electric savings offers

Electric savings programs abound. Solar panels on your roof. An alternate supplier. They all say they save you money on your electric bill. Every one of these companies is giving consumers misleading information and do not tell you about the hidden costs, which can be substantial.

After considerable research and my usual journalistic questioning, I find that Jersey Central Power and Light (JCP&L), which provides most of the electricity in the county, is still the cheapest. JCP&L has the lowest base rate of $.100915 per kilowatt hour.

Alternate suppliers quote a higher base rate ($.105) and do not tell you that you will also be charged an additional delivery charge from JCP&L.

JCP&L and alternate suppliers buy power from the same sources. JCP&L passes power on at a lower rate because it purchases so much.

Installing solar panels is a very dicey situation. You don’t pay anything to have the panels nailed into your roof. But the rate they quote is higher than JCP&L and the money is automatically deducted directly from your bank account. The base rate would be $.105 per kilowatt hour or if your credit card is charged the rate would be $.11.

The biggest problems with solar are:

1. You have to sign a 20- or 25- year contract and the base rate goes up each year. In one case the increase would be 2.9 percent a year compounded over a 25-year period. This will double your base rate over the time period of the contract.

This contract is passed on to a new purchaser or your heirs/estate, who have the responsibility of continuing with that contract.

2. If you ever want to cancel the contract you would have to pay a huge lump sum. Depending on the company, they may have the right to remove the panels, which would destroy your roof.

In my case, the entire front roof would be covered with 40-pound panels, totaling about 1,500 pounds. There is no room there for additional panels.

3. You are not guaranteed to receive the full amount of power you now use. You would be guaranteed less than 100 percent. If you use more than what the solar company guarantees, power would have to be provided by JCP&L and you would be charged extra accordingly. 4. If you want to sell your house, one real estate broker told me that many people do not want solar. And if you do sell to a family that uses a considerable amount of more power than what is guaranteed, extra charges are applicable. Or, one salesman told me, more panels would have to be installed and your monthly cost would increase accordingly.

If you are considering changing: 1. Verify the actual rate; 2. Make sure you understand the charges, which are included and which are extra; 3. What is the length of the contract; 4. What are the penalties if you want to cancel the contract?

For more accurate information: 1. Call JCP&L at 1-888-478-2300. They have experts on alternate suppliers and solar; 2. Visit; 3. Call the Board of Public Utilities at 1- 800-624-0241.

My research discovered that no one tells you the whole story. In other words, the real truth.

Carol Abaya