Electricity Education

Texas is Deregulated. Why Can’t I Choose My Electricity Provider?

For most people living in states open to electric competition, the year deregulation was adopted marked a complete turnaround of electricity as they knew it. Instead of only having one utility to fulfill both supply and delivery of electricity, consumers got the power to choose their own supplier. Providers offering electricity plans and better electricity rates flooded the market and suddenly there were hundreds of choices for consumers.

Sadly, the windfall of electric choice is not available to all who live in Texas. Electric cooperatives (“co-ops”) and municipally-owned utilities (“munis”) are exempt from participating in deregulation. Additionally, Texas law includes exceptions for certain investor-owned utilities to delay participation in retail competition because of lack of competition in their wholesale market and/or their lack of being part of ERCOT.

What does this mean for you?

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Is Your Electricity Contract Expiring Soon?

Electricity deregulation gives consumers the power to choose their own electricity provider and an electricity plan that fits their budget. With this freedom comes responsibility. That fabulous rate you signed up for with your electricity provider will come to an end when your contract expires.

Don’t let your electricity contract expire without taking action. If you let your contract expire without renewing or switching providers, you will have a shocking electric bill coming your way. Keeping your rate low isn’t overly difficult, but it does require some planning and timely action.

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Moving Before Your Electricity Plan Expires?

Electricity providers in every deregulated market offer multiple types of contracts, from variable monthly plans to long-term plans that can last up to three years. The right length of contract for you can depend on where you live and how long you plan to stay there, as well as the time of year you sign up for your plan.

Your rate plan may have been the right one for you when you signed the contract, but what if something happens and you have to move before the contract ends? Unexpected things come up, and not everyone is able to stay where they live until the end of their electricity contract. What happens if you have to break your electricity contract?

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The Evolution of Power to Choose in Texas: How Did We Get Here?

If you’re a Texas resident living in a deregulated utility delivery area, you have likely used the Power to Choose website to look for an electricity plan for your home. The Power To Choose website operated by the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) has been both a significant contributor to the success of retail deregulation in Texas and the source of much confusion for Texas residents looking to compare electric rates and choose an electricity provider.

Lately, the PUCT’s site has come under fire from both consumers and providers for listing plans with potentially misleading electric rates. If you’re overwhelmed by the shear volume of electricity plans and confusing rates listed on PowertoChoose.org, you’re not alone. 

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6 Tips For Raising Energy-Smart Kids

You’re aware of the importance of having a small carbon footprint, and do all you can to leave this world a little cleaner while saving money in the process. But what about the next generation? Are you doing all you can to raise your kids in an energy-smart way?

Making your kids energy aware takes more than just nagging them to turn out the lights when they leave the room. Teaching kids to be conscious of the environment will instill good habits that last a lifetime. Try these tips to make saving energy a more fun and natural part of their day.

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How Does Average Billing Work?

Most of the US has fluctuating electricity bills. In the north, people use more power to heat their homes in the winter. The opposite is true in the south, as residents spend the most on cooling their homes during the hot summer days.

No matter where you live, there will always be fluctuations in the amount of power you use and pay for each month. This also means having months where the electric bill can be as much as twice the normal amount in extreme weather.

Electricity providers have created a system that claims to solve this problem: average billing. Also known as budget billing, average monthly billing, or balanced billing, average billing aims to smooth out the bumps in your monthly electric bill.  Ideally, this should result in a predictable electricity bill each month. 

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It’s Easy Being Green with 100% Renewable Energy Electricity Plans

Renewable energy, or green energy, is gaining a foothold outside of niche groups and is becoming a very viable and increasingly prevalent source of power for our electricity grid.

Various types of renewable energy are included in select electricity plans, but not every shopper knows what those sources are or what that means for them. Electricity customers have more choices than ever. Besides price and plan terms, they can also choose how much green power is coming down the wire.

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What Is A Kilowatt-hour (kWh) And What Can It Power?

When most people look at their electric bill, they just glance at the total to see how much they have to pay that month.

Some might look to see if the meter reading matches the one on their meter at home, but very few people look further than that. If this describes you, you’re missing out on an important piece of information about the way you use electricity: the number of kilowatt-hours you use each month.

Knowing what a kilowatt-hour is can save you money. This knowledge can help you monitor electricity usage, make educated choices about saving energy, and lower your monthly electric bill. You’ll learn how your electricity supplier calculates your bill and why some appliances are more energy-efficient than others.

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Prepaid Electricity: Is It Right for Me?

For many people with poor credit or no credit, getting a basic need like electricity can be incredibly expensive and seemingly impossible.

Electricity providers perform credit checks for traditional postpaid electricity plans before agreeing to connect power to your home. If your credit rating is low or if you’ve just struck out on your own and don’t have credit established, your provider may require a large deposit before agreeing to do business with you.

A prepaid electricity plan with an established electricity supplier can be a tremendous help in this situation. With prepaid plans, your provider won’t perform credit checks, they don’t require a deposit, and everyone is guaranteed to be accepted. Based on the same concept as prepaid credit cards, this model is very popular where it is available.

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What’s the Difference Between a Utility and an Electricity Provider?

When it’s time to choose an electricity plan, it can be really confusing picking your way between all the options available and the host of initials and terms.

One of the most common sticking points for electricity customers is what, exactly, the difference is between an electricity provider (also called REP, CRES, or electric supplier) and an electric utility (also called a TDSP, TDU, or EDU). They’re both vital to the success of electricity deregulation, but they play very different roles. Understanding how they fit together can make a big difference in your overall confidence as an electricity customer trying to shop for the best electricity plan.

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