NRG wants to add a philanthropic element to your electric bill

NRG Home, the Philadelphia retail energy supplier, is trying a new approach to marketing electricity: an appeal to customers’ charitable instincts.

The company has launched a program called Choose to Give, in which it will donate $50 to a nonprofit organization on behalf of each customer who locks in to a 12-month fixed-rate electricity supply deal. For every year the customer remains on the plan, NRG will contribute 1 percent of the annual supply portion of the customer’s bill back to that nonprofit.

Customers can choose one of four nonprofits as the beneficiary: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children; Philabundance; or Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence Region.

NRG's new offering comes at a time when Peco customers are being charged 7.16 cents per kilowatt hour, the lowest retail price the utility has offered since market rates went into effect in 2011. Since it is difficult for competitive suppliers to beat Peco's rate — the Choose to Give offer is pegged at 7.4 cents per kWh for Peco customers — suppliers are hard-pressed to distinguish their products on qualities other than price.

NRG Home is best known for its electricity supply offers affiliated with airline and hotel rewards programs.