As a result, 85%[1] of Texas power consumers (those served by a company not owned by a municipality or a utility cooperative) can choose their electricity service from a variety of retail electric providers (Compare Electricity Rates), including the incumbent utility. The incumbent utility in the area still owns and maintains the local power lines (and is the company to call in the event of a power outage) and is not subject to deregulation. Customers served by cooperatives or municipal utilities can choose an alternate Gas And Electric Bill only if the utility has "opted in" to deregulation; to date, only the area served by Texas Electricity Rates has chosen to opt in.


Before the Texas Senate Bill 7 (SB7) came into effect on January 1, 2002 electricity consumers didn't have the option to choose who they received electricity from. But now with the Deregulation of Texas Energy, it has broken down the market into several different Retail Electric Providers, helping create competition and lower electricity rates for consumers throughout Texas. Over 75% of Texas has been given the power to choose their own electric provider, and millions of Texans have already exercised their right to choose.
For example, if you use a small amount of energy each month, you expect to be rewarded — right? Unfortunately, nearly all electricity plans from Texas Compare Electricity Rates are advertised as costing more per kWh the less electricity you use. It’s a little like buying in bulk: Providers often discount your bill when you cross certain kWh thresholds. For instance, one 12-month plan from Electric Service Providers Power quotes 8.1 cents per kWh for 1,000 kWh a month and 8.8 cents for 2,000 kWh per month, but 12.1 cents for 500 kWh per month. Why the difference? Customers get $35 back each month if they pass 1,000 kWh of use, and another $15 back per month if they cross 2,000 kWh. In this case, using half as much electricity as your neighbor on the same plan wouldn’t get you half the bill.

4) Sign-Up and Confirmation: Once you’ve chosen the retail electricity provider that best suits your needs, just sign up directly from the website. Keep in mind that Texas electricity providers require a credit check, so be prepared to provide your social security number. Although you may have a decent FICO score – you may have a very low Utility Score and have to pay a deposit. Electricity companies use a TEC (Telecommunications, Energy, and Cable) score, a risk model developed specifically for telecomm and energy accounts, to determine if a deposit is required. Based on your score, your electricity service deposit may range from $100 to $400. Many times utilities do not provide payment histories to credit reporting agencies, so find out if your current provider have options (i.e. providing a letter) to show that your previous utility credit is in good standing.
According to a typical economic theory, prices are optimally determined in a fair and transparent market, and not by a political or academic body. In deregulation of electricity markets, one immediate concern with pricing is that incumbent electricity providers would undercut the prices of new entrants, preventing competition and perpetuating the existing monopoly of providers. Thus, the SB7 bill introduced a phase-in period during which a price floor would be established (for incumbent electricity companies) to prevent this predatory practice, allowing new market entrants to become established. New market entrants could charge a price below the price to beat, but incumbents could not. This period was to last from 2002 to January 1, 2007. As of 2007 Texas investor owned utility affiliates no longer have price to beat tariffs.[6]
According to a 2014 report[2] by the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power (TCAP), "deregulation cost Texans about $22 billion from 2002 to 2012. And residents in the deregulated market pay prices that are considerably higher than those who live in parts of the state that are still regulated. For example, TCAP found that the average consumer living in one of the areas that opted out of deregulation, such as Austin and San Antonio, paid $288 less in 2012 than consumers in the deregulated areas."
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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