One desired effect of the competition is lower electricity rates. In the first few years after the deregulation in 2002, the residential rate for electricity increased seven times, with the price to beat at around 15 cents per kilowatt hour (as of July 26, 2006) in 2006. However, while prices to customers increased 43% from 2002 to 2004, the costs of inputs rose faster, by 63%, showing that not all increases have been borne by consumers. (See Competition and entry of new firms above for discussion on the relationship between retail prices, inputs, and investment.)
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1) Check Your Contract Status: Before you switch, you’ll need to determine whether or not you’re bound by a contract with your current provider, and if so, how long you have left to fulfill the term and the cost and/or penalties of early cancellation (if any). You can usually find this information on your bill or by calling your energy provider. According to the Cheapest Electricity Rates, customers can switch providers without facing an early termination fee if they schedule the switch no earlier than 14 days before their current plan expires (for most fixed-rate plans). Most variable-rate plans (month to month) don’t charge early termination fees, so customers on those plans can switch at any time. You should receive a letter in the mail at least 30 days before your contract expires.