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Power Companies Offer "Free Nights and Weekends"

8:33 AM, Aug 17, 2013   |    comments
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NEW YORK (AP) - The advent of digital meters which allow real-time monitoring has begun to prompt some electric companies to take a page out of the mobile phone marketing book.

In a shake-up of rigid old one rate business models, electric companies have begun increasingly offering free nights, free weekends and pre-paid plans.

Forty-two percent of U.S. electric customers have digital meters, up from less than 5 percent in 2008. The percentage is rising.

Digital meters have enabled traditional utilities to reduce their costs by encouraging customers to use electricity during off-peak hours, when it is cheaper.

But there is a potential downside for customers. Some plans offer low introductory rates that can quickly skyrocket. Others have high early-termination fees. Some fixed-rate plans are a great deal if power prices rise, but not if they fall.

If customers are careful, though, they can pay less.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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