Why are so many African power utilities effectively bankrupt? For one thing, they are incredibly inefficient. Efficiency can be improved by proper metering, investing in the system to reduce losses, improving collections and being able to cut off non-payers. This last one being easier if there is up-to-date metering and certain big players like government departments and military installations are also forced to obey the rules. These operational improvements and efficiencies will improve the supply of power but will not go far enough.
Ironically, technology can make the utilities’ problem worse, not better—at least in the short term. In the past, grids were developed because it was cheaper to generate large quantities of power and distribute it over wide distances, rather then generate smaller quantities closer to the place of use. It is for this reason that electricity is seen as a business that benefits from “economies of scale”.
SFE Energy is a division of a multi-million dollar international corporation that services hundreds of thousands of electricity, natural gas, and home services customers across the Northeastern United States and Canada. SFE Energy’s parent company, Summitt Energy, opened its doors in 2006, thriving in one of the most competitive and highly regulated energy markets in North America. SFE Energy is a leading competitive supplier of electricity & natural gas for homes and businesses, and one of the largest privately-held retail energy companies in North America.
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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.
Should you choose a short-term, long-term, month-to-month, or prepaid plan? The short answer: it depends on your specific needs. How long do you anticipate living at your location? Are you deciding in the peak season (summer in Houston) or off season? All electricity providers in Houston offer a broad selection of plans for different contract lengths. Many also offer month-to-month and prepaid electricity plans. The bottom line is that everyone’s needs are different and all contract term lengths offer advantages and disadvantages.
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.
As they’re advertised, the Digital Discount plan appears to save you $4 — but only if you use 32 percent of your energy on the weekends, which is the stat Reliant used to create the average price it advertises. Say you often travel for business during the week, and are only home cranking the air conditioner on weekends. If your energy use skews to 55 percent weekend use (for Reliant, that means 8 pm on Friday through 12 am Monday), suddenly Truly Free Weekends becomes a much better deal.
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.
Think Energy is an electricity provider serving residential and commercial customers in Connecticut, D.C., Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Texas. It is one of the largest independent energy suppliers in the US, with its parent company Engie Resources named the No. 1 brand in the utilities sector for five consecutive years by Brand Finance Global 500. They offer unparalleled customer service, and bring vast experience in the energy field. Their offerings range from 6 to 24 months, and they offer both residential and commercial plans.
In Maryland, you have the power to choose your electricity and natural gas suppliers. More than 500,000 Marylanders have already switched energy suppliers. Need a good reason to switch? Some suppliers regularly offer rates and service that are 10% or more cheaper than the utility. Things could get worse - Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. has proposed a rate increase it says would boost the average residential customer's total bill by $5.77 per month. A recent Choose Energy survey found that more than 86 percent say they've never chosen a competitive Maryland electricity plan, meaning they're probably paying more than they have to for energy. Don't pay more. Just enter your ZIP code above to see how you can begin saving with Choose Energy!
It’s very important to do your own research to understand the business focus of the company you are considering, as well as tax advantages (and possible disadvantages) if the company is a limited partnership. For example, Seadrill Ltd. SDRL, +1.12%  provides offshore-drilling services worldwide. Seadrill Partners LLC SDLP, +0.81%  operates offshore-drilling rigs under specific contracts with several major oil companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp. XOM, +0.47%  and Chevron Corp. CVX, +0.49%  
On the other hand, month-to-month variable rate (no-contract) plans don’t have cancellation fees. You won’t be penalized if you find a better deal elsewhere and want to make another switch.  And, you won’t be stuck paying more than you should be if the market rate for electricity trends down.  But, if it goes up, you’ll be paying more than your in-contract neighbors, and you’ll likely want to shop around again for a better deal.
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.
*Qualifying purchases. 1 membership per 12 months. Meerkat Meals – 2 for 1 on equivalent starters, mains and desserts. Cheapest free. Sunday to Thursday. Participating restaurants. Booking required, max 6 people. Excl Kids meals, drinks and certain days. App only. Meerkat Movies – 2 for 1 on Tuesday or Wednesday. Participating cinemas. Standard tickets only. Cheapest ticket free. Please note your claim may take up to 48 hours to validate. Rewards T&Cs apply
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.

Choose Energy is an online marketplace where shopping for energy is fast and easy. Visit ChooseEnergy.com to compare rates, plan terms, and renewable options from a network of trusted partners in a secure, user-friendly experience. Learn more about how energy choice works and the benefits of switching in our Education Center. And follow us on Facebook and Twitter to receive actionable energy intelligence that will help you make smart, personalized energy decisions.
Residential and business consumers in deregulated energy markets have the power to choose their energy supplier. The power to choose gives consumers the opportunity to compare suppliers and find energy plans that satisfy their usage needs and budget requirements. Whether in a deregulated city in Texas, New York, Ohio or another state, you can shop for electricity or natural gas and find the best plan for you!
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