Frequently Asked Questions

ElectricityPlans.com is here to help you make sense of the electricity shopping process. We provide all of the information you need to figure out your best energy plan options. We're sharing the most frequently asked questions we receive. If you don't see your question, contact us.

FAQ topics:

About ElectricityPlans

ElecticityPlans.com gives you the tools and information to make excellent decisions about your electricity plan and provider. We are passionate about providing transparent and unbiased information to you, our customer.

Q:

Who is ElectricityPlans.com?

A:

We are a Texas-based company dedicated to helping individuals, families, and businesses evaluate and select energy plans that best fit their needs, habits, and budgets. We are currently able to provide information for electricity customers in the deregulated areas of Texas, Ohio, and Connecticut. Our goal is to provide access to all of the tools needed to make an informed decision about your electricity choices and make the switch.

Q:

Why should I choose my energy supplier and plan through ElectricityPlans.com?

A:

We are an objective and independent provider of resources needed to make informed decisions about your electric choice . Our goal is to take a process that might seem confusing or overwhelming and make it as hassle-free and efficient as possible. All of the suppliers and plans featured on our website have been fully reviewed and vetted and the details about them are available to you without gimmicks or bias.

Q:

I don’t see my current electricity supplier on ElectricityPlans.com. Why not?

A:

We closely evaluate all electricity providers and plans offered through ElectricityPlans.com. The process takes time because of the great level of detail we collect before we offer plans on our site. We are in the process of evaluating and bringing a number of reputable and well-know electricity providers and their plans on board. If you don’t see your provider listed here, it is possible that we are in the process of collecting their details, or we haven't had the opportunity to work with them yet. If you love your electricity provider and think we should add them, let us know!

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Shopping for Electricity

No doubt you'll have questions about shopping for electricity. Here are some of the most common questions we get about this topic.

Q:

What does it mean to shop for electricity?

A:

If you live in a state that has adopted retail electricity deregulation and if the utility that services your home or business is an investor-owned utility, congratulations! You have the opportunity to shop for electricity. This means that you have the ability to choose who provides the supply of electricity that flows to your home or business. You also have a say as to how that electricity is produced by selecting a 100% renewable electricity plan.

The number of choices that you have now can be overwhelming. Utilizing the filters on the ElectricityPlans.com plan shopping page to compare electricity plans and narrow down your choices can help you make a clear, well-informed decision. To learn more about shopping for electricity, see our article on how to shop for an electricity plan.

Q:

I have seen the terms “Fixed-Rate Plan” and “Variable-Rate Plan.” What do they mean, and what is the difference?

A:

A fixed-rate plan or contract is one that will charge you the same price per kilowatt hour (kWh) for your energy supply for the life of the contract. From a pricing standpoint, you are immune to seasonal spikes or market fluctuations in electricity prices when you have such a plan. Fixed-rate plans can vary in length from three months to three years. A credit check or deposit, and an early termination fee is usually required with a fixed-rate plan.

A variable-rate plan or contract is one with monthly variations in price. Pricing will fluctuate with market price and you are exposed to seasonal spikes in energy costs. You may sign up for such a plan if the initial price is relatively low, but there is no limit as to how much your electricity rate will increase or decrease from month to month. Variable-rate plans are generally month to month plans with no deposit required and no early termination fees.

To learn more about the different types of electricity plans, see our article on understanding electricity plan types.

Q:

How much money will I save by switching to a new electricity plan?

A:

To figure this out, you will need to locate the rate that your current electricity supplier is charging you for energy. This information is located on your monthly electricity bill under the line item energy charge, generation charge, or energy supply. You will also need to know how much electricity, or kWhs, you use in a given month.

If the energy supply $/kWh is not disclosed on your bill, you can recalculate it by dividing your total energy supply charge by the number of kWh's used. Compare this energy supply $/kWh with the energy supply $/kWh offered by a new electricity supplier. The difference, assuming the new supplier's rate is less, multiplied by the amount of kWh's used in a given month, will approximate how much money you will save by switching plans and/or suppliers.

In Texas, the answer is a little more convoluted because electricity providers advertise a bundled average $/kWh that includes both energy supply and energy delivery. However, the delivery charge is a pass-thru charge from your local utility, so it's the same no matter who you buy your electricity from. Look at the plan details and pricing link on the ElectricityPlans.com shopping page to locate the energy supply $/kWh and compare that to the energy supply $/kWh on your current electricity bill. This will give you the information you need to determine your monthly savings.

Q:

I’ve heard that my new electricity provider will require a credit check. Is this true?

A:

Yes, if you have never used a particular electricity provider before, most will require a credit check. Depending on your credit history, you may or may not be required to make a deposit with your new electricity provider.

If you're concerned about the credit check or cannot afford to make a deposit, some electricity providers offer prepaid electricity plans that do not require either a credit check or a deposit. ElectricityPlans.com also represents some plans that do not require a credit check or deposit and are not prepaid plans. The catch is that you are paying a slightly higher rate for your energy with these plans. You can filter for the "no credit check" or "prepaid" plans available to you on the ElectricityPlans.com plan shopping page for your state and zip code.

Q:

How do I find out if my new electricity provider has hidden fees?

A:

At ElectricityPlans.com we bring to light the basic charges and fees that you can expect each month for every plan that we represent on our website. This disclosure is part of our plan details and pricing link on the plan shopping page for your state and zip code.

States require electricity providers to disclose any fees that they charge in the plan contract or terms of service. Fees for returned checks, late payments, or even speaking with a customer service representative may be assessed depending on your provider. All of this information is included in the details of the contract that you have with your provider. Also see our article on how to read an Electricity Facts Label (EFL).

Q:

I’m not sure if I have a contract with my current electricity supplier. How can I find out if I do?

A:

Call the customer service number listed on your most recent electric bill to find out the details of the current arrangement that you have with your electricity supplier. You may have never selected a new electricity supplier and your local utility may have placed you with a default supplier or with a standard service offer. Be sure to ask about any early termination fees that could be assessed if you terminate the contract. Once you find out the status of your contract with your current supplier, you can begin to explore switching plans or suppliers in order to find a better rate on your electricity.

Q:

When can I switch electricity plans?

A:

It depends on the type of contract you have with your current electricity provider. You can easily change electricity plans and/or providers at the end of the term of an electricity contract. Electricity providers typically mail contract expiration notices at least 30 days beforehand and most contracts allow you to make a switch within 14 days of the end of the contract without penalty. Again, you will want to contact your electricity provider directly to find out exactly when your contract expires and their policy.

If you are moving, electricity providers cannot charge you an early termination fee if you are physically moving from their service area. You may have to provide a new address and proof that you are moving in order to avoid the fee.

Q:

What is the most important thing to look at in order to evaluate electricity plans and suppliers?

A:

It depends on what motivates you as an electricity plan customer. Many customers just want the lowest electricity price possible. If that's the case, be sure to review the plan details to make sure the price you expect will be the price you get depending on your usage levels. In addition to price, the term, or length, of the contract is equally as important to consider.

And remember, the delivery and quality of your electricity will be the same no matter which supplier you ultimately choose. See our article on 5 reasons to switch electricity plans for more things to consider.

Q:

Why is the rate I thought I got when I signed up for this electricity plan seem different from what is actually on my bill?

A:

If you're asking this question, you probably live in Texas. Texas is the only state where the electricity providers advertise their rates as an average $/kWh based on specific usage levels: 500kWh, 1000kWh, 2000kWh. These advertised rates include both electric supply and electricity delivery. These kWh rates are not unit prices but average rates based on a formula that combines both fixed and variable components. For more rate information, see Why Does Texas Have Three Electricity Rates?

Otherwise, the $/kWh for the electricity supply portion of your bill should not differ from what is in your contract if you are in a fixed-rate agreement with your provider. There may be other factors that are causing your price to be different from what you expect, such as bill credits available at a specific usage level or monthly fees. For more, see our article on how to read an Electricity Facts Label (EFL).

Q:

Our electricity bill is really high. Why?

A:

Your electricity bill may be high for a couple of reasons:

  • Your electricity rate is exceptionally high. Take a look at the electricity supply rate on your latest electricity bill and see if that rate is higher than the supply rates for current electricity plans.
  • Your kWh usage is exceptionally high. Both weather and the condition of your HVAC system directly impact the amount of energy that you use.

For more tips on how to save on your electricity bill, see our article on 12 ways to reduce your electricity costs.

Q:

What is Average Billing? Do you recommend it?

A:

Average billing is a billing method that electricity providers use to smooth out fluctuations in monthly electric bills. The motivation for customers to sign up for average billing is to have predictable energy bills. Average billing may be a good choice for fixed income customers whose energy usage is consistent year-over-year. Average billing is typically not a good choice for others since customers may overpay and build up hefty credit balances (essentially loans to your electric company) over time.

To learn about how average billing works and determine if it is right for you, see How Does Average Billing Work?

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Switching Electricity Providers

No need to worry about switching electricity providers. These are some of our most FAQs about this process.

Q:

I’m worried I may lose power during my transition from one supplier to another—will I?

A:

No. Your service will be not be interrupted. For more information on how the process works, see our article on how to switch electricity providers.

Q:

Can I switch electricity plans and/or suppliers any time during the year?

A:

Yes. You can make the switch at any point during the year. Rates offered at certain times of the year can differ greatly, however. The timing of when you switch electricity plans can make a big difference in your electric bill. Also, be aware of your contract term and any early termination fees that you may be charged if you are locked into a fixed-rate agreement with your supplier before you switch.

Q:

What will change when I switch suppliers?

A:

The only things that change are the price you pay for electricity and who gets paid for supplying your electricity. In most states, you will continue to receive your electric bill from your local utility, and the only thing that changes is the source of the supply or generation listed on your bill. In other states, such as Texas, you will receive your electric bill from your new electricity supplier.

Your local utility company will not change. The new electricity supplier won’t come to your home or place of business, as there is no need for an onsite visit.

When you make the switch, your new supplier will take care of the logistics directly with your former supplier and your local utility.

Q:

I changed suppliers, but now I’ve found an ever better deal. Can I switch again?

A:

Maybe. It depends on what the term, or length, is for the contract you signed with your current supplier. If you are locked into a contract, you may have to pay a cancellation fee to get out of it. Depending on what that fee is may make the better deal you found not as great.

Q:

If I switch, what kind of new equipment will I have to buy?

A:

None. Since the electricity runs through the same existing power lines—no matter which supplier you go with—there will not be a need for new or different equipment installation. Your local utility company will still deliver your electricity, read your meter, and measure your electricity use.

Q:

How long does it take to switch my service?

A:

It varies depending on your state and your provider. In some states, you can switch in one or two days. In other states, the switch happens at the next billing cycle. If you know when you'll need new service, you can also schedule your switch in service in advance.

Q:

Do I have to call my old electricity provider to cancel my existing service?

A:

No. Once you sign up with your new electricity provider, they will take care of the process of notifying your former electricity provider and local utility.

Q:

Can I really switch my energy suppliers?

A:

Yes, if you live in a state that has adopted retail electricity deregulation. See our article on energy deregulation by state for information about the current status of deregulation.

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Electricity Industry and Infrastructure

Deregulation has split the electricity industry into distinct functions all requiring their own set of roles and responsibilities. Here we address the most common questions we get about how deregulation has impacted the electricity industry and its infrastructure.

Q:

What is retail electricity deregulation and how does it affect me?

A:

Deregulation of the retail electricity market means there is no longer strict government regulation over the price you pay for the supply of electricity. The retail market for the supply of electricity is now open for competition. What this means for you is that you now have a choice about who supplies your electricity, how your electricity is generated, and how much you pay for it.

Historically, utility companies were responsible for both the supply and delivery of electricity, and state regulatory agencies set the price you paid for it. To learn more, read our article about deregulation.

Q:

What’s a TDSP?

A:

A TDSP is a Transmission/Distribution Service Provider. Essentially they are your electric utility company. These companies own and manage the wires, poles, and hardware that deliver electricity to your home or business. You do not get a choice about your TDSP even in a deregulated market. These electric utilities have different names in different states which include TDU (Transmission & Distribtion Utility) and EDU (Electric Distribution Utility).

Q:

What is a REP?

A:

REP is an acronym for Retail Electric Provider. These companies provide your electricity supply and exist because of deregulation. These electricity providers/suppliers purchase wholesale electricity from generating companies and then sell it to the general public through various electricity plans. REPs are required to be registered and/or certified in the states where they sell electricity. These electricity providers have different names in different states which include CRES (Competitive Retail Electric Service provider) and electric supplier.

Q:

Who do I call when my power goes out?

A:

Call your local utility company - the company responsible for the delivery of electric service to your home or business. There is a phone number listed on your electric bill or on your utility's website. Some utility companies are even using Twitter for outage communication. You may also be able to sign up with your utility company to receive outage status notifications via text or email for your service address.

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