Can't choose electricity provider

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

  • Written By: Kelly Bedrich

  • Texas is deregulated. That means that most — but not all — Texans have a choice of electricity supplier. If you live in an area served by an electrical cooperative, a municipal owned utility, or a utility that’s not part of ERCOT, you can’t choose your electricity provider.

    Electric cooperatives (“co-ops”) and municipally-owned utilities (“munis”) don’t have to take part in deregulation. Texas law also includes exceptions for certain investor-owned utilities.

    What does this mean for you?

    Texas Electricity Deregulation – Who Can Switch?

    About 85% of Texans live in areas open to electric competition.

    In areas like Houston, Dallas, Corpus Christi, Brownsville and Waco, you can shop for your electricity plan.

    You have a choice of supplier. You can use our Texas electricity rates chart to find the cheapest electricity rate from the best electric company near you. And you can take advantage of electricity plans like 100% Renewable Energy, Free Nights and Weekends, or a Fixed Rate electricity plan.

    The other 15% of Texans live in areas with co-ops, munis, or smaller investor-owned utilities. These are all places where you can’t choose your supplier.

    Here are the deregulated areas of Texas (shown in color, below.) Read on to find out more about the parts of Texas where you can’t choose your supplier

    map of what areas in Texas are deregulated.

    Check Your TX Zip Code to See If You Can Choose Your Provider

    TX Electric Co-Op Customers Can’t Choose Electricity Provider

    Texas has 75 electric cooperatives managed by Texas Electric Cooperative. Their members include 64 distribution and 11 generation and transmission cooperatives.

    You are a member of the co-op if you live in an area that the municipal co-op serves.

    Many consumers search topics like, “How do I get out of an electric co-op?

    The short answer is…you can’t.

    Where you live determines what electric utility you have. And if you live in a co-op area there’s only two ways to get out of an electric co-op. You can move. Or you can push for deregulation by talking with city and county leaders.

    TX Municipal City-Owned Utility Customers Can’t Choose Electric Supplier

    A municipal utility is an electricity provider that is owned and operated by the city it serves. These city-owned utilities can decide if they want to allow their customers to have a choice of electricity supplier. So far, the answer has been no.

    So if you live in Austin or San Antonio or the surrounding counties, you can’t choose your electricity supplier.

    CPS Energy serves the San Antonio area, including Bexar County. CPS Energy is the nation’s largest municipally-owned utility. They serve 641,000 electricity customers.

    Austin Energy serves Austin and the surrounding area. Austin Energy is the nation’s 7th largest municipally-owned utility. They serve more than 500,000 customers.

    Note that if you live on the north side of Austin, in Round Rock, you may be able to choose your electricity supply. Shop your electricity by zip code to find out.

    Both CPS and Austin Energy are members of ERCOT. ERCOT is the independent system operator (ISO) that schedules the flow of electric power in Texas. ERCOT handles the Texas grid for 90% of the state’s electric load.

    If Austin Energy or CPS Energy decide to allow competition, ERCOT will handle all supplier switching.

    TX Investor-Owned Electric Utilities Where You Can’t Choose Provider

    There are a number of electric utilities in Texas that are not part of ERCOT.

    Investor-owned utilities are privately held utility companies. They are a utility that’s a business rather than a government function, like a co-op or a muni.

    These investor-owned utilities include Entergy Gulf States, Southwestern Public Service Company, El Paso Electric Company, and AEP SWEPCO.

    El Paso Electric Company serves El Paso. They are an investor-owned utility that serves over 400,000 electric customers from Hatch, New Mexico to Van Horn, Texas. It does not appear that deregulation is in El Paso Electric’s near future.

    The primary reason is because El Paso Electric is not part of an independent Regional Transmission Organization (RTO), a member-based organization responsible for moving electricity over large interstate areas.

    El Paso Electric is also not a member of ERCOT like most of the rest of Texas. Because of this, El Paso Electric is not set up for retail competition at this time.

    About Kelly Bedrich

    Kelly Bedrich co-founded ElectricityPlans in 2016 with the goal of simplifying the complicated process of buying energy. As president and chief technology officer, Kelly keeps our development team focused on providing a user-friendly website. When not reading the latest on technology and finance, Kelly enjoys celebrating Taco Tuesday, listening to live music at local venues, and hiking.

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