The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) regulates the state’s electric, telecommunication, and water and sewer utilities, implements legislation related to those utilities, and offers customer assistance in resolving consumer complaints.
Electricity deregulation in Texas has been around since 2002. Since then the PUCT has played a key role in educating Texans about choosing a competitive Retail Electricity Provider (REP) and being a consumer advocate as it relates to electricity deregulation in Texas.
What is the PUCT Responsible for?
The mission of the PUCT is to protect customers, foster competition, and promote high quality infrastructure (i.e. the poles and wires that deliver electricity to your home or business).
The PUCT is responsible for:
- Licensing Retail Electricity Providers (REPs) and Aggregators,
- Monitoring competitive activity in the state to ensure a level playing field,
- Approving delivery rates for the regulated transmission and distribution service providers (TDSPs), also knows as the local poles and wires company,
- Regulating ERCOT (Independent System Operator – ISO) with oversight from the Texas legislature, and
- Monitoring and responding to consumer complaints.
The Texas Railroad Commission oversees the Public Utility Commission. The Texas Railroad Commission oversees natural gas pipelines and gas production.
The Public Utility Commission oversees ERCOT. ERCOT (Electricity Reliability Council of Texas) is responsible for maintaining the flow of power in Texas. They serve as the “traffic cop” making sure supply matches demand. Power outages in February 2021 are due to power generation assets going offline due to extreme cold. Generation assets are privately owned, not owned or managed by ERCOT.
To avoid winter outages as Texas experienced in February 2021, the Railroad Commission, ERCOT and Public Utility Commission of Texas will likely jointly discuss new requirements for winterization. Those costs would eventually be paid by consumers through tariffs, delivery fees or higher wholesale and retail electricity costs.
Read more in our article, What’s Going on with Texas Electricity – February 2021
Want to get a reminder to shop for your fixed price electricity rate when your contract expires? Sign up for electricity plan expiration reminders.
Who Can Shop for Electricity in Texas?
Residential and commercial customers in most areas of Texas can shop. For example, if you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Waco, Killeen, Corpus Christi, Brownsville and Midland areas you can shop for electricity.
If you are in El Paso, Conroe, Brenham, Austin, San Antonio, Beaumont and parts of The Woodlands, you are in a regulated utility area and cannot shop for an electricity provider. You may be wondering, if Texas is deregulated, why can’t I choose my electricity provider?
The good news is that approximately 85% of TX power consumers can shop for an electricity provider. If you live or have a business in any of these utility delivery areas, you can compare electricity rates, shop, and save:
- Centerpoint – Houston area
- Oncor – Dallas/Fort Worth, Waco, Killeen, Midland/Odessa
- AEP Central – South Texas, including Brownsville and Corpus Christi
- AEP North – Parts of Midland/Odessa, Abilene, San Angelo and west Texas
- TNMP – Galveston, League City, and northern Texas
Some people in South Texas may still believe that CPL is their energy company. The reality is, Corpus Power & Light is no more, and CPL Energy is not the utility (which is AEP Central), it’s just another retailer. Similarly, some people in West Texas may still think WTU is their energy company. West Texas Utilities is no longer the utility (it’s AEP North). And WTU Energy is just another retailer you can pick.
Why is there no Price to Compare in Texas?
In other deregulated markets, the local utility company continues to serve consumers under what’s often called the “price to compare” or standard service offer.
When the state legislators and the PUCT structured electricity deregulation in Texas, they studied different market and industry examples. They decided to make even playing field.
The incumbent electricity utilities were each split into two companies – an “affiliate retail electricity provider” (i.e. formerly affiliated with the old electric company) and a transmission and distribution service provider (i.e. the poles and wires company).
To encourage competition, the Affiliate Retail Electricity Provider (A-REP) had to charge a rate that was set and approved with the PUCT, called the Price to Compare. Once competitive retail electricity providers (C-REP) had gained sufficient customers, the PUCT eliminated the Price to Compare.
Now, we have a 100% competitive market for electricity supply in TX. You can shop for Texas electricity plans, compare rates, and have your choice of a variety of products!
Fine Print, Gimmicks and Gotchas
The PUCT maintains a state-run shopping site, the Power to Choose, to help consumers shop for electricity plans. However, there’s an overwhelming number of plans to consider, with fine print, gimmicks and gotchas. That’s why we created ElectricityPlans.com.
Compare Electricity Rates in Texas and Shop for Electricity Plans
ElectricityPlans.com was created to help customers compare and shop for the best electricity rates and plans in Texas. (The folks that run this website live in the Great State of Texas. So yee-haw, y’all!) We figured if we found it hard to shop for electricity plans in TX, other people might find it confusing too.
When you shop ElectricityPlans.com, you shop from a select list of quality providers. We only feature quality plans, and we help you understand the fine print. We also have articles that help you learn how to shop for an electricity plan. Or learn everything in one place with The Definitive Guide to Shopping for Electricity in Texas.
Within the ElectricityPlans.com site, you can compare cheap prepaid electricity plans, shop free nights electricity plans or shop free weekends electricity plans.
Former or current military? We feature discount military electricity plans.
Want to go green? Shop green energy plans that use 100% renewable energy.
Want free stuff? Compare plans that have electricity + extras like Nest thermostats, Google Home or gift cards.
Moving into a new home or apartment in Texas? We can help.
The options are almost endless, but ElectricityPlans.com features only the best electricity plans for you, and works with PUCT-approved retail electricity providers.
Can Someone Help Me Choose the Best Electricity Plan?
Absolutely — just use our new PlanScan tool! No energy ogres or scary energy monsters here — PlanScan is free to use and we don’t require you to hand over your social security number or credit card information.
We’ll analyze your data using our proprietary tool to match your requirements to our database of hundreds of plans. We’ll identify the best TX electricity plans for your home and save you money.
And that is what deregulation is all about.