After halting enrollments for an “Energy Rewards” pilot earlier this year in Pennsylvania, Comcast has relaunched the initiative with a new partner, Crius Energy, while also expanding the offering to Xfinity customers in Illinois.
Marketing for the commercial debut of Energy Rewards started on April 16, and is currently available to Comcast customers in Pennsylvania and Illinois, according to a Comcast spokesperson.
Similar in some ways to the program Comcast tested with Independence Energy Group in Pennsylvania, the newly launched version of Energy Rewards supports two service options with 24-month terms:
-SafeSwitch Fixed: Offers a lock-in rate for 24 months, plus a $100 savings rebate if the customer does not save money over the terms of the plan. Comcast noted that this tier is for customers looking for long-term price certainty. Customers taking the SafeSwitch Fixed tier are subject to a $100 early termination fee.
-SafeSwitch Flex: Starts at a rate 5% below the local utility’s current supply rate, and a guaranteed rate cap. Comcast said this is for consumers looking for lower rates, plus longer-term price protection. After the 24-month term, customers on the “Flex” tier will be notified of renewal plan options.
As the FAQ points out, Comcast is not selling of electricity and natural gas, but has partnered with Everyday Energy, a licensed supplier that is a wholly owned subsidiary of Crius Energy. Comcast subs who opt for Energy Rewards will continue to receive their energy bills from the local utility.
While the financial terms of Comcast’s agreement with Crius Energy are not known, the program puts a different spin on the service bundle, and could serve as a customer retention tool.
A Comcast bill insert distributed in Pennsylvania about the program notes that Energy Rewards is available for customers of Met-Ed, PECO, Penelec, Penn Power, PPL and West Penn Power. ComEd is one of the known energy suppliers that are supporting the Energy Rewards program in Chicago.
Energy Rewards customers are also eligible for “Comcast rewards on a periodic basis,” which could include free movie tickets and other “perks” from the MSO. In the early going, Comcast is offering Xfinity TV subs who sign up for Energy Rewards three free months of HBO, Showtime or Cinemax.
Comcast began to pilotthe Energy Rewardsprogram last yearwith Independence Energy Group, a unit of NRG Energy, offering fixed and variable energy plans that included perks such as prepaid Visa cards, discounted movie tickets via Fandango (the service Comcast acquired in 2007), and three months of HBO, Showtime, or Starz. The pilot program also featured periodic, six month “milestone” rewards that included free movie tickets, and Smart Thermostats for customers who were taking Comast's Xfinity Home security/home automation service.
During the initial pilot, Comcast and Independence Energy Group limited the program to areas served by Duquesne Light, which covers portions of Allegheny County near Pittsburgh and Beaver County.
Comcast cited “upcoming changes” when it halted new enrollments in the program earlier this year, noting then that NRG and Comcast had mutually agreed to no longer market the program to existing Comcast customers. Comcast also said it was “evaluating our options.”
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