One of the benchmarks of a successful free market is the range of choice provided to customers. Choice can be viewed both in terms of the number of firms active in the market as well as the variety of products those firms offer to consumers. In the first decade of retail electric deregulation in Texas, the market experienced dramatic changes in both metrics. In 2002, residential customers in the Dallas-Fort area could choose between 10 retail electric providers offers a total of 11 price plans. By the end of 2012, there were 45 retail electric providers offering 258 different price plans to residential customers in that market. Similar increases in the number of retail electric providers and available plans have been realized in other deregulated electricity market areas with the state.
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.
Since the Texas electricity market opened to competition in 2002, many Texas residents have had the opportunity to choose their own electricity provider. Instead of relying on their local utility to provide them with electricity, most Texans can choose from a variety of competitive providers, allowing them to shop around for the perfect electricity plan for their homes and lifestyles.
Not only does it show customers the real rates at different usage levels but it reflects both the rate jumps in a plan at certain usage. It also shows whether the rate is high or low compared to general electricity market pricing. By doing all the calculations for the customer, Compare Electricity Companies' Rate Analyzer can show customers what their best energy options are when they shop for Texas electricity no matter what TDU area they are in. Customers can see how much they can really expect to pay each month for their usage.
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.
Variable-rate plan:A variable-rate plan means the rate you pay for your electricity may fluctuate based on the market price of energy. Energy price depends on many factors, like weather, demand, fuel prices, the distribution system and the market. Variable-rate plans are flexible because you are not locked into a contract; however, you’ll pay a higher price in high-demand seasons like summer. A variable-rate plan might be ideal for you if you like to shop around and keep an eye on prices.
On the other hand, month-to-month variable rate (no-contract) plans don’t have cancellation fees. You won’t be penalized if you find a better deal elsewhere and want to make another switch. And, you won’t be stuck paying more than you should be if the market rate for electricity trends down. But, if it goes up, you’ll be paying more than your in-contract neighbors, and you’ll likely want to shop around again for a better deal.