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Retail Choice vs. Solar Panels: Which Renewable Energy Option Offers More Savings?

Updated: Oct 9, 2023

If you’re searching for ways to spend less on electricity at home, you’re not alone. Adopting some lifestyle changes can help lower your bill, but there’s another option: renewable energy.

Retail Choice Programs

These alternative energy options enable customers to sign up to receive energy from an array of renewable sources like solar and wind farms. Currently, the District of Columbia and 13 states offer retail choice programs. If greener energy is your goal, this could be the right path. However, if you're also prioritizing a lower electricity bill, think again.

Many retail choice programs are not always upfront about the kWh rate that they offer, which may actually be higher than your current utility rate. Because these retail choice companies are often much smaller than your state’s utility company, their rates may not be as competitive.

One Solar Solution customer reported opting into a variable rate plan through a DC retail choice option. They were shocked when their bill skyrocketed up to 41 cents per kWh, an increase of almost 400% compared to the 11 cents per kWh that PEPCO charges. After discussing it with the company, the customer was able to alter their plan and locked down a new rate at 13 cents per kWh.

“The model is good, it’s just that there is a lot of hidden language,” the customer said.

With PEPCO's current rate of 11 cents per kWh, this DC retail choice option still has a rate that's higher than average.

Some customers have reported that they were signed up for the retail choice program unknowingly. If you think this may have happened to you, check your utility bill. Under the Summary of your charges, the fifth line should state the retail choice program or your utility. If you are currently signed up with the retail choice program and don’t want to be, you can get in touch with your main utility company.

Some retail choice options in the District have also been known to send notices in the mail that look very similar to a utility bill. They may have terms like “URGENT” printed on the envelope. The important thing to remember is that you’re never obligated to respond or engage with these companies, despite what their marketing tactics may look like.

Installing Solar Panels

While retail choice options may be a good choice for some customers, if you’re looking to save money and go green at the same time, installing solar panels is the way to go. While there is an upfront installation cost, local and federal tax incentives ensure that your panels will save you more money in the long term. Some DC residents can even qualify for an entirely free solar system.

With solar panels generating electricity on your very own roof, your energy bill will shrink. Depending on certain factors, your bill may end up at zero or sometimes even negative charges. This means that your utility company will pay you for the extra energy your solar panels produce.

If you're ready to save money and go green, contact one of our sales team at (202) 249 - 1112 or

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