I Liked It Better When I Had No Choices
December 2, 2010 11:24 AM   Subscribe

Where can I find clear information about setting up utilities in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania?

I have recently rented a house in zip code 15224. Hooray! I am going to be responsible for gas, electric, and water utilities. I thought that there was just one option for each and thus no worry. However, now I see on the Duquesne Light website that there are several available, like PALMco, that are cheaper.

How do I know which is the best value for my house? I am concerned about saving money but do not want to do so at the expense of reliable utilities. Do you have a preferred gas/electricity/water provider? What makes it the best?

In addition, any information regarding energy-saving initiatives offered by these companies (such as discounts on compact light bulbs) would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
posted by amicamentis to Home & Garden (3 answers total)
There is no real issue of reliability between competing companies. Utility companies are quasi-governmental - they are regulated so heavily. Reliability issues are generally regional, and thus effect all local companies equally.

I would also be surprised if there is a big price difference between local companies. However, they may have different programs available that might suit your needs better. Call their sales department and ask.

The Database for State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiencies lists every rebate and incentive offered by every utility company in the country. It appears that Duquesne has two residential programs ( here and here) - but neither one seems too great. And it is better than PALMco, which appears to have none.
posted by Flood at 2:01 PM on December 2, 2010

I guess it may be different here in the UK but I have always shopped around for utility deals and changed as required to pay the least and reliability didn't come into it. The only complaint bad experience was a provider with too few customer service people - I'd spend 45+ mins in a queue trying to talk to them whenever I rang up. So despite repeated moves I never went with them again.

But the main consideration is your lifestyle, i.e. when are people in the house, and what do they do and how much gas/electricity/water is used as a result. Based on that you find a suitable contract. If you can't get usage data from the previous tenants just pick up the phone and they will ask you a number of questions and will guess your likely usage and will recommend what they consider to be a suitable contract....do that a few times and go with the best offer. Don't commit to any long contract terms though to guarantee a favourable rate as you can't be sure their estimates are appropriate at this point.
posted by koahiatamadl at 2:15 PM on December 2, 2010

I've lived here a while, but I haven't had enough experience with the different companies to really give you a good comparison. My only advice would be to not trust any letter the gas company Dominion sends to you (I've gotten contradictory mail in the same day and mail that would have been applicable a month earlier but not now). Also: Duquesne light's automatic bill payment is broken in the sense that removing your name from the bill doesn't automatically remove your bank account/credit card information! I don't know if it's better with any of the other providers, but apply due diligence with whoever you deal with.
posted by ayerarcturus at 6:29 PM on December 2, 2010

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