The local electric company is the utility – that’s the company who owns the infrastructure, including the poles and power lines that deliver electricity to your home. They are who you call if your power goes out or there's an emergency. But in almost every city in Texas, you must choose another company to supply that energy, called a Retail Electric Provider (REP). These REPs, like Spark Energy, allow you to choose electricity plans that offer competitive prices and plans to meet your needs.
TDU Delivery Charge: TDU stands for transmission and delivery utility — in other words, the utility company in your area that is actually piping the energy from the power generation companies into your home. (Remember, REPs in Texas are just the middleman.) The TDU delivery charge is set by the utility and is consistent from plan to plan and provider to provider within its service areas. For example, AEP , the TDU for Corpus Christi, charges the same delivery fee for all TXU, Direct Energy, and Reliant plans. You don't typically get a choice in utility company, and therefore, these fees are pretty much unavoidable, non-negotiable, and won't factor into choosing an electricity plan or provider.
Just Energy is a leading independent energy supplier with over 1.6 million electricity and natural gas customer accounts across the US and Canada. Just Energy’s business involves the sale of natural gas and electricity to residential and commercial customers under long-term fixed-price or price-protected contracts (price protected for electricity). By securing the price for natural gas or electricity under such contracts for a period of up to five years, Just Energy’s customers reduce or eliminate their exposure to changes in the price of these essential commodities.
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Ambit Energy provides electricity and natural gas services in deregulated markets across the United States, primarily marketed through a direct sales channel of more than 250,000 Independent Consultants. Based in Dallas, Texas, our company is focused on being the finest and most-respected retail energy provider in America, offering cost-effective choices for today’s energy consumer. In 2010, Ambit was named #1 Fastest-Growing Private Company in America by Inc. magazine, and we continue to pick up steam as the fastest-growing company in the retail energy sector today.
Variable Rate Plans: Designed as month-to-month contracts, these plans are in total control of your energy provider, which can shift the price you pay per kWh at its discretion. This means you, the consumer, are in a better place to reap the benefits when the energy market falls — but it also means you're at risk for hikes in prices, whether as a result of natural disasters or the provider's bottom line. Variable plans always offer a full year of price history to show the average price per kWh so you can get a sense of what you're getting into (like this one from Reliant) and know this: Variable plans don't have cancellation fees. You can cut your service at any time — a huge incentive for REPs to keep their prices reasonable.
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.
To try to prevent these customers from being further ripped off, the government is planning to implement an energy price cap, which will require Ofgem to set a maximum amount that suppliers can charge on their standard tariffs until 2020. This should be in place by the end of 2018. This is in addition to the current price cap for vulnerable and prepayment customers.
Once you sign up for your new energy plan, your local utility will be notified of the change and begin your service from the alternative supplier at the beginning of your next billing cycle. Upon starting your energy supply service, your utility company will include this charge on your energy bill and continue to charge for the delivery service portion of your bill. Why? Because although your supplier may offer you a competitive rate for electricity supply, your utility is still in charge of the infrastructure that delivers energy to your home – such as power lines and energy meters.
Your most effective weapon, however, is a site like ComparePower (Power to Choose) to locate and compare details from various Houston electricity resellers.  In one fell swoop, you will efficiently and quickly locate and classify cheap electricity resellers all on one page, instead of wasting your valuable time searching out available companies and visiting their websites one by one (who even does that any more?).
Utility companies are responsible for transmission and delivery of electricity even in energy deregulated parts of Texas and should be contacted in the event of a power outage. Your retail energy supplier may provide you competitive electric rates or exceptional customer service, but they cannot repair power lines or restore your service. In the case of an emergency, contact:
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) does it for you. When you sign up for a plan with a new provider, ERCOT will send you a mailer confirming the switch. You have three days upon receiving the mailer to change your mind. If you don't, you'll have a new provider within seven days, and ERCOT will notify your old provider. Just remember, if you abandon a contract before it's complete, you will be on the hook for any fees or penalties detailed in its Terms of Service.

Yes, we're the best at comparing energy prices, but don't just take our word for it. Since 2006 uSwitch has been fully accredited by the Ofgem Confidence Code. With many energy comparison sites to choose from, uSwitch has been one of the longest standing signatories to the Ofgem code, and a primary contributor to achieving gas and electricity pricing transparency.

When you decide to switch, and have got the ball rolling with your new supplier, you should settle any outstanding debts. If you have bills that are more than 28 days old, you might find that you can’t change supplier until you’ve paid them. But there are some exceptions to the 28 days – for example, if you are less than £200 in debt, then your switch could still go ahead as normal

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 .”

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.
This is one area where going green and saving money diverge. The cheapest renewable tariffs tend to cost more than the cheapest standard tariffs, so it really is a question of your personal politics. However, if you can afford to go renewable, then it's a help to the environment, and all the main comparison services allow you to compare renewable tariffs.
Canadian electricity is cheap at 10 US cents per kilowatt hour, which is reflected in their high average electricity usage. US electricity prices at 0.12 $/kWh are also quite cheap internationally. In India and China they are very cheap. The UK is in the middle at 20 cents. It’s relatively expensive globally but not too bad for Europe, where most countries pay a high share of tax on their power.
It is often the case that the cheapest option available to you will be supplied by an energy company that you have not heard of. Do not let this put you off saving money on your gas and electricity bills. Small energy companies provide the same energy as the other, more expensive, ones but often for a much more competitive price. You don’t need to be concerned about these companies failing to be able to supply you with energy.
Unlike with long-term plans, monthly, variable rate (no-contract) plans have no cancellation fees. You won’t have to pay a penalty if you decide to take your business elsewhere because you found a better deal. Plus, you won’t be left paying more than you should if the market rate for energy trends down. However, if the market prices rise, you’ll have to pay more than those who are in-contract.
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