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Pennsylvania shows California how

Pennsylvania's green power markets have rapidly outpaced those of California, according to the latest issue of Green Power Newsletter, published by the Regulatory Assistance Project of Gardiner, Maine.

Although Pennsylvania's market opened nine months later than California's, 6.9% of residential customers have chosen a competitive power supplier in Pennsylvania, compared to only 1% of California residents. In total, 395,887 customers have switched in Pennsylvania while only 125,497 have switched in California.

Green power marketers have captured 40% of residential customers who switched in California, or about 0.4% of all residential customers. In Pennsylvania, 30% of switchers have chosen green power, for a total share of 2.1% of residential customers.

Marketing the key

Since the date of the study, however, a number of California marketers have been switching their customers over to green power, to take advantage of a subsidy offered by the California Energy Commission. But even if all residential customers in the state were buying green power, Pennsylvania's green buyers would outnumber them. And thanks to a shopping credit that makes switching more attractive, Pennsylvania's market is growing rapidly. The contrasting levels of ratepayer interest in green power in the two states is because of the very different market approaches, says newsletter editor Ed Holt, a keen observer of the green marketing phenomenan in the energy business.

In California, "In effect consumers are told restructuring is good for you. Don't do anything and you'll save money." By contrast, in Pennsylvania the message is: "You can save money only if you get into the market and choose a supplier who can beat the shopping credit." As a result, participation in the market is higher.

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