New Jersey consumers may get new tool to decide on utility providers

 Under legislation awaiting a vote in the Assembly, electricity and natural gas suppliers would have to provide the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities with a direct link to current pricing information on their websites.(Joe Hernandez/WHYY)

Under legislation awaiting a vote in the Assembly, electricity and natural gas suppliers would have to provide the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities with a direct link to current pricing information on their websites.(Joe Hernandez/WHYY)

Only a small percentage of New Jersey residents have changed energy suppliers since the state deregulated electricity and natural gas in 1999.

The state Senate has given unanimous approval to a measure that could encourage more people to make the switch.

The legislation requires electricity and natural gas suppliers to provide the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities with a direct link to current pricing information on their websites. The BPU would compile that information into a single database.

That way, residents could then quickly compare prices if they’re considering switching to lower their energy bills, said state Sen. Shirley Turner, D-Mercer.

“Many times, they’re lured into taking out a contract with these gas and electric suppliers only to learn that it is not saving them money,” she said. “They’re in fact paying more money.”

By being able to get fast and accurate price comparisons, Sen. Bob Singer said, consumers might cut their electric or gas bills as much as 20 percent.

“In times when dollars count and we’re concerned you’re on fixed income, we’re talking about the middle class struggling, we’re talking about a tough economy right now, saving money is an important thing,” said Singer, R-Ocean. “It’s a way for these people to save money.”

The measure is awaiting final legislative approval in the state Assembly.

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