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.
Variable-rate supply plans, as the name suggests, have a rate that varies based on the market price of electricity. Seasonal and market fluctuations can affect supply rates. While variable-rate supply plans can allow you to take advantage of market-price lows, there is the possibility of paying for high supply rates when demand is at its peak. These plans offer great flexibility.
One desired effect of the competition is lower electricity rates. In the first few years after the deregulation in 2002, the residential rate for electricity increased seven times, with the price to beat at around 15 cents per kilowatt hour (as of July 26, 2006) in 2006. However, while prices to customers increased 43% from 2002 to 2004, the costs of inputs rose faster, by 63%, showing that not all increases have been borne by consumers. (See Competition and entry of new firms above for discussion on the relationship between retail prices, inputs, and investment.)
Free Nights & Free Weekends electricity plans are an incredibly popular choice for Texas electricity customers. Providers have answered customer’s demand with several ‘free time’ electricity plan choices. Most of these time of use plans offer free weekends, while others offer free nights or even a free month of electricity. Customers love the idea of free electricity, and why not? Hot summers in Texas require a lot of electricity!
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.)
Utility companies are responsible for transmission and delivery of electricity even in energy deregulated parts of Texas and should be contacted in the event of a power outage. Your retail energy supplier may provide you competitive electric rates or exceptional customer service, but they cannot repair power lines or restore your service. In the case of an emergency, contact: