Energy sellers must provide collateral to ERCOT to cover expected future costs of buying wholesale electricity and if the companies don’t have enough capital, they get shut down. Gas And Electric Companies Energy, a Dallas-based electricity retailer that sold wind-energy plans to 9,800 customers including many in the Houston area, got caught in that financial squeeze when it defaulted on its collateral obligations.
Twenty bucks compared to a $2,000 bill? Not much to write home about, but hey — it’s free money. And, true, you’ll still get some free money when you use less energy, but rewards only really seem reward-y if you're shelling out big bucks. That same Compare Electricity Rates plan only yields about $6 in Plenti points per year if you use 500 kWh of electricity each month.

In this free market competing electricity retailers buy electricity wholesale from private power generators to sell at retail to around 85% of Texas residents. The partnership between generators and retailers is governed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, which attempts to balance the power grid’s electricity supply and demand by purchasing small amounts of electricity at 15-minute intervals throughout the day.

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