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What is the Role of a Utility?

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Evaluating your energy options can be daunting – especially if you aren’t completely sure of some basic energy concepts.

For example, you might hear the term “utility,” but may not be clear on how a utility delivers energy to your business.

Have no fear: Direct Energy Business is here to help. We’ve put together a new, informative video series – Light Bulb Moments – to help get you up-to-speed on some basic energy terminology.

So, what is the role of a utility? Watch our first video to find out: 

Check out all of our Light Bulb Moments videos here.

On a basic level, your utility company – also known as your distribution company (DISCO) – provides electricity and/or natural gas to your business. The utility also owns and operates the transmission wires or other infrastructure that deliver electricity or natural gas.

Additionally, your utility reads your meter and bills you on a monthly basis. It also handles emergency situations, such as downed cables, natural gas leaks and power outages caused by severe weather. When you lose power, you should always contact your local utility.

For a long time, the utility company was your only option for natural gas and electricity, regardless of where you lived. However, that has changed significantly through the years. That's where Direct Energy Business comes into play.


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In the U.S. and Canada, many states and provinces have replaced a monopoly system of electricity and natural gas – in which you have no other choice than your local utility – with competition, allowing retail energy providers to help customers obtain the best service and price possible.  

Today, consumers in deregulated energy markets have real energy choice beyond their local utility and can choose who supplies energy to their home or business. In fact, a recent report shows businesses across the country have saved billions by switching from their utility company. Businesses in Ohio, for example, collectively saved more than $3.5 billion over a four-year span (2011-2015) by switching from the default utility rate to a retail energy supplier. 

Stay tuned for our upcoming Light Bulb Moment video posts on the many benefits that deregulation and retail energy providers can offer your business. 

Want to learn other basic terminology to make more informed energy decisions?

Download the Energy 101 Cheat Sheet

Posted: May 05, 2017

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