It's 'pipeline surfing,' redefined

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Here's a chance to trim those monthly bills. A dozen states have deregulated electric service and slightly more have loosened the reins on natural gas. Now a handful of online companies are beginning to offer cut-rate energy to consumers in those states as well as nationwide deals on other services. Among them:

Essential.com sells many types of discount energy from natural gas to "green" power and heating oil to customers in a few states that have deregulated their utilities. Nationwide, consumers can choose other cut-rate services, including various telephone deals, Internet access, and satellite TV.

GreenMountain.com specializes in selling power from wind turbines and other renewable sources to consumers in a few deregulated states.

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LowerMyBills.com offers customers choices among low-cost vendors for services such as long-distance and wireless phone service, auto insurance, and credit cards. Consumers in some deregulated states also can cut gas and electric bills.

OnlineChoice.com pools its more than 345,000 members to negotiate the best possible deal with suppliers. Consumers nationwide can take advantage of low-cost plans for everything from long-distance and wireless phone service to discount home security and gasoline. Customers in some deregulated states will also find deals on natural gas and electricity.

Utility.com offers cut-rate electric service in some deregulated states as well as low-cost telephone deals, dial-up and high-speed Internet connections, and service plans for major appliances and heating and cooling systems.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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