The increase in retail rates come as companies prepare for surging prices in the wholesale electricity markets where they buy their power. Forecasts of higher than normal temperatures and record power demand are coinciding with the shutdown of at least three coal-fired plants, leading to concerns that temporary shortages on the hottest summer days could send wholesale prices, which typically average less than $50 per megawatt hour, spiking to $3,000 per megawatt hour or higher. (A megawatt hour is 1,000 kilowatt hours.)
In order to prompt entry into the market, the price to beat would have to be high enough to allow for a modest profit by new entrants. Thus, it had to be above the cost of inputs such as natural gas and coal. For example, a price to beat fixed at the actual wholesale procurement price of electricity does not give potential entrants a margin to compete against incumbent utilities. Second, the price to beat would have to be reasonably low, to enable as many customers as possible to continue to consume electricity during the transition period.
TDU Delivery Charge: TDU stands for transmission and delivery utility — in other words, the utility company in your area that is actually piping the energy from the power generation companies into your home. (Remember, Compare Electricity Rates in Texas are just the middleman.) The TDU delivery charge is set by the utility and is consistent from plan to plan and provider to provider within its service areas. For example, Power Company , the TDU for Corpus Christi, charges the same delivery fee for all Lowest Electricity Rates, Compare Electricity Rates, and Cheapest Electric Company plans. You don't typically get a choice in utility company, and therefore, these fees are pretty much unavoidable, non-negotiable, and won't factor into choosing an electricity plan or provider.
Minimum Usage Fees: Often set at or around 1,000 kWh/month, these fees mean you’ll always pay for at least that amount — even if you only use, say, 800 kWh of electricity some months. It sounds nasty, but it’s only something to be concerned about if your electricity bills historically show you hover right around that minimum use threshold. If you’re electricity use always exceeds that amount, it’s like it’s not even there.
1) Check Your Contract Status: Before you switch, you’ll need to determine whether or not you’re bound by a contract with your current provider, and if so, how long you have left to fulfill the term and the cost and/or penalties of early cancellation (if any). You can usually find this information on your bill or by calling your energy provider. According to the Cheapest Electricity Rates, customers can switch providers without facing an early termination fee if they schedule the switch no earlier than 14 days before their current plan expires (for most fixed-rate plans). Most variable-rate plans (month to month) don’t charge early termination fees, so customers on those plans can switch at any time. You should receive a letter in the mail at least 30 days before your contract expires.
One of the benchmarks of a successful free market is the range of choice provided to customers. Choice can be viewed both in terms of the number of firms active in the market as well as the variety of products those firms offer to consumers. In the first decade of retail electric deregulation in Texas, the market experienced dramatic changes in both metrics. In 2002, residential customers in the Dallas-Fort area could choose between 10 retail electric providers offers a total of 11 price plans. By the end of 2012, there were 45 retail electric providers offering 258 different price plans to residential customers in that market. Similar increases in the number of retail electric providers and available plans have been realized in other deregulated electricity market areas with the state.
Power to Choose is a program run by the Cheapest Electricity Rates of Texas. Its goal is to protect residents of the state from unfair energy costs and unregulated Compare Electricity Rates, as well as develop a strong infrastructure. The program provides an easy to use, online tool that give residents of the state the opportunity to compare rates, plans and other energy options. Keep in mind though, you really need to read the fine print if you decide to use Power to Choose (or any other service, for that matter).