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WHEN UTILITIES in California held a monopoly on power, where people lived determined which power company received their check each month. In Santa Clara County, that utility was PG&E. Now, dozens of power retailers are entering the market, and consumers are free to choose who provides their power based upon how it is made and how much it costs.

Switching is as easy as changing long-distance companies. Customers need only call the retailer of choice and ask to switch. The company will ask for information that comes on people's monthly utility bill, so it helps to have that in hand. PG&E will still be in charge of delivering power to homes and dealing with any equipment problems. The difference will be unseen--except for a rise in price of about 10 percent if renewable energy is chosen.

Most companies that provide green power will display a "Green-e" logo, showing that they have met voluntary environmental standards set by a San Francisco-based nonprofit called the Center for Resource Solutions.

A partial list of Green-e approved companies is included here. For a complete list, contact the Center for Resource Solutions at 1-888-63-GREEN.

  • PG&E Energy Services: 1-888-743-1700

  • Green Mountain Energy Resources: 1-888-246-6730

  • Enron Energy Services Inc.: 1-888-730-9271

  • Edison Source: 1-888-93-EARTH

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From the September 10-16, 1998 issue of Metro.

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