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Online Utility Service Provider Signs FirstEnergy

Online Utility Service Provider Signs FirstEnergy

Akron, OH-based FirstEnergy last week became one of the first utilities to offer its services through Utility.com, a one-stop utility shopping website. Under an alliance with the web site, FirstEnergy will sell its electricity, gas and energy-related services through Utility.com to customers in Ohio, Delaware and Maryland. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The alliance enters FirstEnergy into Utility.com's eUtilities program. FirstEnergy's services will be live in June. For eUtilities program partners, Utility.com will provide access to a website offering a variety of services, including customer enrollments, customer service, bill presentation, payment collection, e-mail statements and online bill storage. Along with energy, the program will offer long distance, DSL, voice-over-Internet protocol and dial-up Internet access.

"The website is zip code driven," said Chris King, CEO of Utility.com. "A customer would go to our website and enter his/her zip code, taking the customer to a list of services offered for that area. It would include anything from electricity service, to an entire package including electric, gas, phone, Internet access and others." King said the goal of the eUtilities program is to sign enough utilities so that Utility.com has a presence in every state.

A customer who selects multiple services from eUtilities would get a consolidated bill, and would have the option to pay online. "This is how we are hoping to enter into markets ahead of deregulation," said Laurie Ann Ryan, a spokeswoman for Utility.com. "We intend to partner with some utilities who still operate in regulated areas. But they may not offer online bill payment. They may not offer these other telecommunications services. We'd gain a market presence in regulated areas, because we can offer these extra services."

So far, only FirstEnergy and Kansas City Power & Light (KCPL) have officially entered the program. More utilities will make announcements soon, said a Utility.com spokesperson. Utility.com bills itself as the first Internet utility company, and just recently raised more than $30 million in venture capital. Investors such as Sempra Energy and Southern Company Energy Marketing contributed to the financing.

John Norris

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