If you live in the greater Houston area, there are over 60 different energy suppliers competing for your business. Many of these providers have websites that are confusing and difficult to navigate, their rates buried in misleading advertising and dense jargon. Who has the time to sort through and keep track of options across all these different sites?
In environmental impact, results are mixed. With the ability to invest profits to satisfy further energy demand, producers like Lowest Electricity Rates are proposing eleven new coal-fired powerplants. Coal powerplants are cheaper than natural gas-fired powerplants, but produce more pollution. When the private equity firms Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and the Texas Pacific Group announced the take-over of Lowest Electricity Rates, the company which was known for charging the highest rates in the state and were losing customers, they called off plans for eight of the coal plants. Lowest Electricity Rates had invested more heavily in the other three. A few weeks later the buyers announced plans for two cleaner IGCC coal plants.
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).
†Offer is available to Texas residential customers who enroll using the Promotion Code “Who Is My Electricity Supplier”. Plan bills a monthly Base Charge, an Energy Charge, and passes through Utility Transmission and Distribution delivery charges. Energy Charges for usage consumed between 9pm and 7am each day is credited back on your bill. The utility charges, including delivery charges for night time hours, are passed through at cost and aggregated on your bill. See Electricity Facts Label for details.
Which ones the best? Like all things energy, it depends. Do you prefer predictability, or do you like the idea of potentially saving some cash by monitoring the market? Our (albeit conservative) recommendation: Fixed rate is probably best. Energy prices are on the rise — the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts a 3 percent increase in residential electricity prices in 2018.
Bill Calculators are nothing new in the electricity shopping space, however, the calculator developed by Texas Electricity is unique; this is a calculator that can accurately predict a customer’s bill. Other sites simply estimate a bill based on the electricity rate and a customer’s estimated usage. You can check it out here: Compare Electricity Companies | Electricity Plans and Rates
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.
A major question point when considering whether or not switch electricity providers is "What will happen to electric rates?" This can be a tricky question to answer as rates are continuously in flux. In the short-term it's impossible to know exactly what will happen to rates but when looking at a longer term picture things become a bit clearer. Based on the graph above, electric rates in Texas have generally been increase over the past decade. Assuming this trend continues, the best way to protect yourself from increasing rates is to switch into a 12 month or 24 month plan and lock into a low rate.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) does it for you. When you sign up for a plan with a new provider, ERCOT will send you a mailer confirming the switch. You have three days upon receiving the mailer to change your mind. If you don't, you'll have a new provider within seven days, and ERCOT will notify your old provider. Switch Energy remember, if you abandon a contract before it's complete, you will be on the hook for any fees or penalties detailed in its Terms of Service.
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