Caveat emptor–BUYER BEWARE!! North American Power (NAP) is an electricity supply company headquartered in Connecticut. The company is making an unprecedented, aggressive marketing push in Rhode Island, seeking customers to switch from National Grid to NAP. NAP offers lower electricity rates than National Grid, so what’s not to like? I received a marketing call from NAP yesterday and asked a lot of questions, some of which were not answered honestly. The more I resisted signing up on the spot, the more aggressively they pushed. Here are some details.
National Grid is a regulated utility, meaning its rates must be approved by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and stand for about six months. National Grid was approved for a large rate increase for January through June, 2014. National Grid must justify rate increases, this one due to the increased cost of fuel, primarily natural gas. They may apply in May for rates from July through December. The rate is high (8.884 cents/kWh). So, what does NAP offer? They say 7.490 cents/kWh, but only for the first month. Then the rate may change. The most they promised is to be less than National Grid through June. After that, no guarantees. I explicitly asked if NAP is regulated by the PUC and was told “yes,” which is not true. NAP has been characterized as a bait-and-switch operation. Here’s a sample of customer reviews: 2 good reviews followed by 8 very poor ones. Further, NAP is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Here’s the BBB’s rating of NAP, which indicates 172 customer complaints in RI for the past 12 months. That’s a lot for a little state like RI!
EcoRI News provides an excellent discussion of how NAP operates. I did ask the telemarketer whether NAP participates in GreenStart, a program that promotes new sustainable sources of generation. The answer was “yes,” which is at best misleading. NAP does purchase renewable-energy certificates (RECs), as does People’s Power and Light, but with a major difference. Turns out that not all RECs are created equal! RECs issued prior to 1998 are for older, outdated facilities, whereas newer RECs are more supportive of efforts to green the electricity supply. Surprise, surprise–the older RECs cost a lot less than the newer ones. People’s Power and Light only purchases the newer RECs for the New England GreenStart program. So, if you’re interested in promoting green electricity production by participating in GreenStart, as I do, switching to NAP would make you ineligible for GreenStart. Consequently, you’d lose the tax deduction that GreenStart can provide. Once again, misleading information from the NAP telemarketer, who claimed I could continue with GreenStart even if I switched.
Needless to say, I did not accept the contract from NAP. Further, their aggressive marketing raised red flags that caused me to delve a little deeper and to share with you what I found out. Buyer beware.