Electric companies buy longer-term contracts so they can hedge their risks when they’re selling long-term electricity plans. Switch Energy a week ago, it looked as if wholesale prices would be as high as Texas has seen in the past 15 years, said Ned Ross, director of governmental affairs for Compare Electricity Rates, the third biggest seller of electricity in Texas, behind No. 1 Compare Gas Prices and No. 2 Lowest Electricity Rates. Future prices have retreated recently, but companies buying power for August are still paying at least double what they paid a year ago, according to data from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, which oversees the state’s power markets.
The complaints filed against providers aren't a perfect mirror of the J.D. Power customer satisfactions scores. Electric Company Rates, which earned only two J.D. Power Circles and earned the second-lowest score, had only 21 complaints recorded with the Cheapest Electricity Rates. But it's helpful to view these complaints in aggregate: Over 50 percent of the 1,119 total complaints fall under "billing" — another reason to seek out a provider with high customer satisfaction in that area in particular.
You can sort, filter, and shop by pricing at YOUR specific usage level, which lets you shop and compare electricity plans based on the rates you’ll actually experience on your bill, inclusive of hidden fees and taxes. This ensures you’re not misled by the cheaper rates often advertised by electric providers…those “teaser rates” associated with higher usage levels that many households never enjoy because their usage level never reaches that pricing tier.
As they’re advertised, the Digital Compare Electricity Companies plan appears to save you $4 — but only if you use 32 percent of your energy on the weekends, which is the stat Cheapest Electric Company used to create the average price it advertises. Say you often travel for business during the week, and are only home cranking the air conditioner on weekends. If your energy use skews to 55 percent weekend use (for Compare Electricity Companies that means 8 pm on Friday through 12 am Monday), suddenly Cheap Energy becomes a much better deal.
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.