Among their other predictions for the year ahead, they suggest that investment in clean energy will again struggle to grow. In part, this is because there is a surplus of solar equipment thanks to a slowdown in the Chinese, Japanese and Brazilian markets and a continuing fall in the price of wind power. Offshore wind in Europe, which had a stellar 2016, will struggle to match last year’s figures as developers concentrate on building the projects they financed last year. Finally, a strong dollar and the end of the low-interest rate era are likely to depress investment, too.
After Senate Bill 7 went into effect in January 2002, nearly 6 million power customers became eligible to choose their energy supplier. That number has grown through the years. By deregulating the state’s energy market, the Texas Senate gave constituents the power to choose. The process of energy deregulation in Texas dismantled the utilities’ monopoly over the electric market and encouraged customers to explore their energy options.
Spark Energy, Inc. is an established and growing independent retail energy services company founded in 1999 that provides residential and commercial customers in competitive markets across the United States with an alternative choice for their natural gas and electricity. Headquartered in Houston, Texas, Spark currently operates in 16 states and serves 46 utility territories. Spark offers its customers a variety of product and service choices, including stable and predictable energy costs and green product alternatives.
That means that customers in Houston paid an average of $5,500 more for electricity over a 14-year time span beginning in 2002, according to the group that buys electricity on behalf of municipal governments in Texas. The calculation, which uses data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, assumes monthly electricity use of 1,300 kilowatt hours.
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.
The complaints filed against providers aren't a perfect mirror of the J.D. Power customer satisfactions scores. Just Energy, which earned only two J.D. Power Circles and earned the second-lowest score, had only 21 complaints recorded with the Public Utility Commission. But it's helpful to view these complaints in aggregate: Over 50 percent of the 1,119 total complaints fall under "billing" — another reason to seek out a provider with high customer satisfaction in that area in particular.
 1.     Contracts:  Before, there were no contracts.  You signed up or you didn’t.  When it’s the only game in town, you have to play by their rules.  Nowadays, you’ll see these ultra-fabulous rates bandied about but it’s only by carefully scrutinizing the fine print that you’ll discover those wonderful rates come with a one-year lock-down or other catches.
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.

The freedom to choose your energy rates in Maryland is not only available in homes but also to commercial customers. In fact, more than 90% of large businesses in the state have enrolled with alternative suppliers. This competition between energy suppliers to provide lower prices for businesses could be why commercial electric prices in Maryland are lower than the national average this year. If the same competition between suppliers existed for residential customers, prices might also decrease. However, without participation in energy choice, suppliers are not forced to compete for your business. Want to see the available rates? Enter your ZIP code above.
Anyone on a standard rate tariff is at risk of seeing rising energy bills – so one of the best ways to protect from energy price increases is to switch to a fixed rate tariff. This means that for the duration of the deal, the cost of your energy and gas will be fixed. You may be able to switch to a cheaper fixed price tariff at any point, or you may have to pay a fee if you switch before the end of the deal – so check your paperwork.
And just like with any plan, it’s worth it to do the math to see how different scenarios will affect your bill. Take, for example, a home in Sweetwater that uses about 1,000 kWh of energy per month, and is interested in the Texas Essentials 12 plan. Zero percent renewable energy is the cheapest option — but by committing to a $5 monthly charge for its 100 percent “JustGreen” option, it’s actually cheaper than the 60 percent hybrid renewable option.

Twenty-nine states have deregulated electricity, natural gas or both. That allows you to shop for the supply portion of your bill from alternative providers who may offer rates lower than the default supplier – usually a utility. Delivery services and billing will remain the responsibility of the local utility as they own the power lines and wires that keep the lights on.
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