Where should you shop for electricity? Houstonians have the power to choose from an overwhelming variety of energy suppliers, plans, and options. If you live in the Houston metro area and your local electric utility is CenterPoint, over 50 different retail electricity providers currently offer electricity plans in your area. Each of these electricity providers offer sites, tools, and information on how to switch plans and providers. However, their information is often filled with electricity rates that are difficult to compare because of things like introductory rates, bill credits, narrow usage levels, unexpected fees, and legalese buried in the EFLs. Fortunately, Houston homes and businesses have electricity shopping options that make the process much simpler.
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Energy deregulation has been in place for several years however there are still a lot of people who are confused or who have not fully understand the implications, structure, details and workings of energy deregulation. Many simply know that energy deregulation means people now have the power to choose their electric companies – a diversion from the previous system where a single utility company provides services for the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity.
To skirt the late summer electricity rate hikes, a little bit of planning can really pay off. Try to avoid signing new long-term electricity contracts in late summer. While it may be impossible to escape signing a new electricity contract if you’re moving during that time, just know that a short-term plan may make more sense until the rates go back down in the fall. That way you’re not stuck paying a premium rate for an entire year or more.
Consumers in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth and Corpus Christi were promised bargains on electricity when the Texas Legislature deregulated the electricity market. But 16 years later they're still paying more for electricity than their counterparts in cities Texas lawmakers exempted from deregulation such as Austin and San Antonio, according to the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power which analyzed federal electricity pricing data.
There are very real fears that the Trump Administration will seek to hold back the renewable energy market, but countering this development will be strong demand from corporates to buy clean power. Seven of the 10 biggest public companies in the world are among the dozens that have committed to source all their electricity from renewable sources and they – and a host of others buying clean power – will not take kindly to Trump standing in their way.
But in future, BNEF argues, the aim will be to secure as low-cost renewable power as possible and supplement that with “more expensive flexible capacity from demand response, storage and gas, and then importing the remaining needs from neighbouring grids. We are reaching the point in the story where power system regulation will have to be fundamentally rethought .”
In summary, fixed-rate plans provide a level of certainty and stability in your energy charge since the price will not fluctuate over the life of your contract. If prices suddenly spike, you are protected because your rate is locked in. The flip side is that if rates drop over the life of your contract, you’ll be stuck paying the higher rate. You can incur steep cancellation fees if you change electricity plans or providers before the end of your contract term.
But they are not pessimistic about the sector. “The good news is that renewable energy has – at least on a levelized cost of electricity, or LCOE, basis – clearly achieved the long-awaited goal of grid competitiveness,” they say. Both onshore wind and solar projects have won auctions, in Morocco and Chile respectively, with bids of $30/MWh or less in the last 12 months. “These must be the lowest electricity prices, for any new project, of any technology, anywhere in the world, ever. And we are still going to see further falls in equipment prices,” they assert.
If your monthly use hovers around the 2,000 kWh mark, you’ll be spending around $2,000 per year on electricity bills no matter which REP you choose. With that level of investment, you may be tempted by an offer to get something extra in return — like rewards. Direct Energy is notable because it’s a part of American Express’s Plenti rewards program. For every dollar you spend on your Direct Energy plan, you earn a “Plenti point,” which you can then redeem on purchases with retail partners like Macy’s, AT&T, and Exxon.
Keeping on top: With deregulation, a whole host of electric resellers jumped into the market because there’s a whole lot of electricity to sell: if Texas were a country, it’d be the 11th largest electricity consumer in the world! Just by itself, it uses as much electricity as Spain or Great Britain! That means there’s a whole lot of information you have to find, absorb, and process to make sure you’re getting the best rate for your needs.
You can sort, filter, and shop by pricing at YOUR specific usage level, which lets you shop and compare electricity plans based on the rates you’ll actually experience on your bill, inclusive of hidden fees and taxes. This ensures you’re not misled by the cheaper rates often advertised by electric providers…those “teaser rates” associated with higher usage levels that many households never enjoy because their usage level never reaches that pricing tier.
It is not a well-known fact that consumers can take advantage of energy deregulation and choose an alternative energy supplier, known as an Energy Service Company (ESCO). In addition to offering lower electricity and gas rates, an ESCO can provide other energy options, not otherwise available by your local traditional utility company, such as renewable green energy (solar, wind or hydropower) and fixed-rate plans. Energy deregulation allows residents and businesses to shop around for energy, compare electricity and gas rates, find the cheapest providers and easily switch electricity and gas suppliers online. Compare ESCOs and their rates, choose the cheapest electricity or gas provider, and you can reduce your energy expense, such as Con Edison electric or gas bill, if you live in New York City, or United Illuminating or Eversource bill if you live in Connecticut or Public Service Electric and Gas, Jersey Central Power and Light, Atlantic City Electric, Rockland Electric Company bill if you live in New Jersey. PowerSetter specializes in educating New York, New Jersey and Connecticut residents about comparing electricity and gas providers, and making switching energy suppliers an easy and painless process. In addition to offering tools to compare energy rates, PowerSetter only selects plans with no hidden monthly and/or enrollment fees and works with the most reliable and trusted alternative electric and gas companies.
In Texas' deregulated energy market, customers must pick their own electricity provider, all of which offer different rates per hour of power usage. You can shop for other power plans on the state-run website, www.powertochoose.org, or try an alternative website, like www.texaspowerguide.com to help find the cheapest plan. Keep in mind that many retail electricity contracts carry penalties for early termination.
The increasing digitalisation of the energy and transportation will lead to an increased focus on making devices and networks more secure and more resilient. “From Vermont to Ukraine, the suspicion is that Russian hackers are on manoeuvres and that utilities are in their sights,” Liebreich says. “The clean energy sector must think carefully about how to protect itself, but also how to contribute to grid stability, particularly through power storage and ancillary services. The reality is that we are entering an era when a catastrophic failure could potentially cascade through the energy, communications, transport, financial and industrial systems, in a way that has never been seen before. It is vital that the world invests time, brains and money now to ensure it never happens.