Arachne’s site survey19 June 2000
A look around the Internet
Yet again, there is a lot of information and a lot of developments in allowing customers to buy electricity on-line, or at least determine which company offers the best deal. Some of these were detailed in the February 2000 issue of Modern Power Systems.
Utility.com hopes to lure the US mass market by selling electricity services under its own brand name. Founder and CEO Chris King believes the Internet is the solution to the high transaction costs of signing up lots of individual consumers. Because the company does everything on-line, he says: ”It costs us 75-80 per cent less to provide customer service and billing than traditional utilities.” It is a site that is only – as yet – applicable to parts of the USA. Visitors to the site type in their zip code, and the site informs them whether it not it covers their area. The company will not disclose how many customers it has signed, but King says that the total has doubled every month since March. He hopes to reach 50 000 by early next year. Utility.com is guaranteeing savings of up to 10 per cent on consumers’ electricity bills.
King also says that the big battle will be for large industrial customers. “Markets usually deregulate from the top down. The top 30 per cent of the customers are going to shop around, and they are most of the margin. Energy usually ranks in the top three operating costs for commercial and industrial businesses.”