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Con Edison Media Relations
Contact: D. Joy Faber
Telephone: (212) 460-4111

For Immediate Release: April 1, 1998


Today marks the start of a 30-day enrollment period for Retail Choice, a program that will enable Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc. (Con Edison) customers to pick a different electricity supplier.

Initially, up to 63,000 Con Edison customers will have the opportunity to purchase their electricity from registered energy services companies (ESCOs) during the first phase of Retail Choice. To date, 23 ESCOs have registered with the New York State Department of Public Service to participate as energy marketers or suppliers in the program.

To encourage participation in the program, financial incentives of $50 to $75 will be available to residential (SC1 & 7) and small commercial (SC2) customers. Those customers selected for Retail Choice and who agree to remain in the program for at least 10 months, until March 31, 1999, will receive the incentive in the form of a credit on their first Retail Choice bill from Con Edison.

In an effort to educate consumers about the new options available to them, Con Edison sent its three million customers an informational brochure about the Retail Choice program and the phone numbers of ESCOs that will do business in Con Edisonís service area of New York City and Westchester County. To sign up with an ESCO, customers can contact one or more ESCOs directly or call the Con Edison Retail Choice Information line - 1-800-780-2884 - and request that their names be released to all ESCOs. Additional information, such as fact sheets and question and answer documents on electric competition, is available through the Retail Choice Information Line or the Con Edison web site.

All natural gas customers can already choose their gas suppliers. Customers can request information on this option as well by calling the Retail Choice Information Line.

During the initial phase of the Retail Choice program, which will run from June 1, 1998 through March 31, 1999, 500 megawatts of electric load, or enough electricity to power the entire borough of Staten Island during a period of peak demand, will be made available to customers. Retail Choice will be completely phased in over the next several years, giving all customers the option to choose their electricity supplier no later than year-end 2001.

Con Edison will continue to deliver electricity to all customers through its transmission and distribution lines, whether they purchase it from ESCOs or do not choose an alternative supplier and continue to receive full service from the utility. No additional metering equipment is necessary to participate in the program, and Con Edison will continue to respond to service interruption calls from all customers. Selecting an alternative supplier for electricity will have no effect on Con Edisonís transmission and distribution system reliability, which is the best in the nation.

During the one-month enrollment period, ESCOs that have signed up customers will provide their enrollment lists to Con Edison. Only one ESCO may be selected to serve an individual account. Customers must authorize ESCOs to obtain account and energy usage information from Con Edison before the utility will release it.

Once a customer chooses and is accepted by an energy services company, the ESCO will notify Con Edison. If more customers apply for Retail Choice than the limits of the initial phase of the program can accommodate, a lottery will be conducted by an independent organization to choose participating customers. At the conclusion of the registration period, and after the lottery if one is necessary, the utility will notify customers of their acceptance into the Retail Choice program. Those not selected will be given preference for the next phase of the program, scheduled to begin in 1999.

Customers who purchase electricity from ESCOs will receive two bills - one for delivery of the electricity from Con Edison and the other bill for the electric energy from the ESCO they selected. Alternatively, ESCOs can act as the billing agent for their customers. An ESCO exercising this option will send one bill to its customers - for both the electric energy itself and for the delivery of the electricity by Con Edison.

Con Edison is one of the nationís largest utility companies, with more than $7 billion in annual revenues and $15 billion in assets. The company, a subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc., provides electric, gas and steam service to more than three million customers in New York City and Westchester County, New York.

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