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.
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.
If you’re looking for a new electricity deal, you’re not alone: 319,000 electricity customers switched energy supplier during January 2018, according to OFGEM*. Shopping around for the best electricity deal is simpler than you might think – but there are bound to be a few questions. Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about comparing electricity deals.
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.
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.
If you are a residential customer, you will find your Price-to-Compare in the bill message on your monthly DP&L bill. If you are comparing electric generation suppliers on price, paying a lower price in cents per kWh should result in a lower electric bill. However, suppliers may charge other fees and all costs should be considered before choosing a supplier (Read What to Consider).
Even though customers in deregulated cities routinely pay more for electricity, there is a bright spot. The gap between the average price paid for electricity between deregulated cities like Houston and regulated cities like San Antonio have dwindled to the narrowest point ever to 8.8 percent. Back in 2006, customers in deregulated cities were paying nearly 47 percent more for electricity than their counterparts in regulated cities.
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.
Entrust Energy is a privately owned retail electricity and natural gas provider. With over 100,000 customers, it is one of the fastest growing providers in the nation. Entrust not only offers competitive rates and reliable customer service, but they have also eliminated all unnecessary monthly customer fees to show appreciation to their loyal customers. Entrust’s Customer Care Center, located in the US, provides personalized assistance to all customers to help reinforce the commitment to upholding the highest customer service standards in the industry.
Fixed-Rate Plans: These plans are steady and predictable; the price per kWh you sign up for will remain that same for the entirety of your contract. (The only changes in your bill will be from forces outside of your REP's control, like changes in TDU fees, or changes in federal, state, or local laws.) Often fixed-rate plans will have a slightly higher price per kWh than others, but you're paying for the predictability. They're great if you live by your budget – and even greater if you happen to sign up when rates are low. The fixed-rate plans of our five Texas providers typically started at 12 months, with some extending up to three years, but we spotted a couple from Reliant that offered fixed rates for six month contracts as well.
There are several reasons that some energy suppliers end up being cheaper than others. The largest energy companies, also known as the Big Six, often do not need to offer rates that are as competitive as smaller companies. This is because they are more recognisable names and therefore can always rely on a steady base of customers. You can avoid this and save money by switching to a cheaper provider.
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.
For example, if you use a small amount of energy each month, you expect to be rewarded — right? Unfortunately, nearly all electricity plans from Texas REPs are advertised as costing more per kWh the less electricity you use. It’s a little like buying in bulk: Providers often discount your bill when you cross certain kWh thresholds. For instance, one 12-month plan from StarTex Power quotes 8.1 cents per kWh for 1,000 kWh a month and 8.8 cents for 2,000 kWh per month, but 12.1 cents for 500 kWh per month. Why the difference? Customers get $35 back each month if they pass 1,000 kWh of use, and another $15 back per month if they cross 2,000 kWh. In this case, using half as much electricity as your neighbor on the same plan wouldn’t get you half the bill.
“We hope that 2017 marks the year when the world gets serious about protecting its increasingly digital and connected infrastructure – whether that is from malicious attacks, technical failures, or unpredicted weather impacts or spikes in demand. If we are wrong, we worry that the world will get a sudden and very unpleasant wake-up call – if not this year, then some time soon.”
When the energy market became deregulated in a majority of Texas in 2002, residents and business owners in these regions earned the power to choose which retail electric provider would supply their electricity. In a deregulated energy market, you could have a range of options for electricity supply rates, which means doing research to find the best one for your needs.
If you own or operate a business it should come as no surprise that taking a few minutes to compare electricity rates in Stafford is time well spent. Choosing a cheaper electricity rate from one of the many Stafford energy providers could help you lower your expenses and improve on your bottom line. Simply request a quote, and SaveOnEnergy.com will present you with energy offers designed specifically for your business.
Another unwelcome side effect of not knowing your average monthly kWh usage level is that you may end up paying more than you expect. This can occur when a customer inadvertently shops an electric rate based on a higher usage level than they actually use. Electricity suppliers commonly advertise their electric rates associated with the highest (2000 kWh) usage levels since those tend to be the lowest rates.
Texas deregulated most of the state's electricity markets in 2002, a move aimed at lowering electricity costs by letting consumers choose their own electric power providers and their own plans. Some parts of Texas continued to be regulated, including those whose power is proved by municipally-owned utilities, electric cooperatives and investor-owned utilities that operate outside the state's primary power grid.
You can organize and shop by pricing at YOUR individual usage level, which allows you to shop and compare energy plans based on the rates you’ll actually see appear on your bill, inclusive of taxes and hidden fees. You won’t be misled by the “teaser rates” tied with higher usage levels that many homes never experience, as their usage level never reaches that pricing tier.