Power companies dangle free nights and weekends

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 16, 2013 at 5:39 pm •  Published: August 16, 2013
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NEW YORK (AP) — Electric companies are increasingly offering plans that sound like come-ons from mobile phone companies: Free nights, free weekends and pre-paid plans.

Steven Murray is president of Direct Energy's residential energy programs. He says the industry is "seeing a transformation in the way people buy and use electricity."

The more customized plans are made easier by the growing use of digital meters that wirelessly link electric companies and customers, allowing both to track usage in real time. The plans enabled traditional utilities like Dallas-based TXU to reduce their costs by encouraging customers to use electricity during off-peak hours, when it's cheaper.

They come with risks, though. Customers can end up paying a lot more for power than they expected. If customers are careful, though, they can save some money.