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.
A Brief History of Power To Choose
When Texas deregulated in 2002 with Senate Bill 7, the PUCT had the brilliant foresight to create an online resource and marketplace to compare residential electricity rates. The intent was to promote electricity deregulation in Texas and ensure deregulation’s success through education. Initially, actually comparing electricity plans and choosing a new electricity provider was only a small part of the site. The first PUCT site, then called Texas Electric Choice and using the tag line “The Power is yours. Use it.”, was the precursor to today’s Power To Choose.
The site evolved and became an important educational resource for electricity shopping. More importantly, the site became well known as a comprehensive resource to compare electricity rates in Texas. In 2012, PowerToChoose.org was completely redesigned to it’s current appearance and a significant marketing campaign was undertaken to revive brand awareness. By doing so, they tapped into the loyal, independent Texas consumer mindset and it quickly became THE place to shop for electricity in Texas.
In addition to other marketing efforts, retail electric providers were required until 2011 to list the powertochoose.com website on all residential electricity bills. This established credibility and generated awareness for the site. However, that requirement expired and legislation to continue the consumer friendly disclosures fell victim to lobby pressure from 15 of the state’s largest retail electric providers.
According to the 2017 Scope of Competition in Electric Markets in Texas issued by the PUCT, 92% of Texas residents have switched providers to date. This model of state-run electricity comparison sites has since been imitated by other state public utility commissions.
The State of Power to Choose Today
The intent of Power To Choose, as stated on their main page is to be “…the official and unbiased electric choice website of the Public Utility Commission of Texas.” However, it has evolved be be far from an unbiased source of plans, mainly due to the teaser rate game that electricity providers play with bill credits and tiered usage rates. The PUCT recognized this and in 2016 undertook an open comment period from stakeholders to decide the future of Power to Choose. The comments were not good. Recommendations included eliminating bill credits, clarifying rates for consumers, or retiring the shopping section of powertochoose.org altogether.
The results? Small changes were made to the default filters for bill credits/minimum use fees, and the ratings system was revised. However, the underlying significant issues remain, specifically the electricity provider’s ability to mislead consumers with convoluted electricity rates in order to appear on page 1 of the search.
Texans Have A Better Way to Shop for Electricity – ElectricityPlans.com
Electricity shoppers deserve a better way to shop for electricity. ElectricityPlans.com provides an impartial, online marketplace for electricity shopping with straightforward, detailed, and relevant information disclosed for each plan. Shoppers can tailor their search for the perfect electricity plan with advanced search facets that include kWh usage levels, plan length, and unique plan features like ‘free electricity’ or ‘electricity + extra stuff’ to name a few.
At ElectricityPlans.com shoppers find an apples to apples comparison of Texas electricity plans. We consider ourselves true consumer advocates. Plan information and pricing is put on a level playing field so no more sorting through the clutter of confusing rates and unknown providers. The providers and plans shown on ElectricityPlans.com are fully vetted and the fine print details are brought to the surface. No more surprises from misleading advertised rates, hidden fees, or gimmicks.
Best of all this shopping tool is free! Selecting an electricity plan with a lower energy rate is the fastest and easiest way to save money on your electricity bill. With ElectricityPlans.com you have all the information you need to find the cheapest, gimmick-free electricity plan in Texas.