The threat of price spikes have been long in the making, the result of changing economics of power production. The shale drilling boom produced record amounts of natural gas, which pushed prices to all-time lows and made gas-fired plants cheaper to operate than coal. Renewable energy such as wind is also producing abundant amounts of electricity at a lower cost than coal.
When you look at the rates provided by a company - whether on a site like Electricity Prices, Compare Electricity Companies, Compare Electricity Rates, or the company's specific website - you should first determine if the rate you are seeing in an average rate based upon a certain number of kilowatt hours (kWh) used in a billing cycle or it's simply the rate, regardless of usage. It is important to view the Electricity Facts Label (EFL) for the plans you like so that you can learn if the plan is fixed-rate or variable-rate, what you are being charged for energy by the company, what surcharges you will be assessed by the utility company for your area, and what other fees the company might assess. If you're not careful, the cheap Texas electricity you think you found might cost you more than you realize.
Before you switch providers, you’ll need to determine whether you’re under a contract with your current provider, and if so, how long you have left on your contract. You can usually find this information by looking at your electricity bill or by calling your energy provider. If you choose to switch before your contract is up, your current contract may outline an early termination fee. However, according to the Cheapest Electricity Rates of Texas, customers can switch providers without paying an early termination fee if they schedule the switch no earlier than 14 days before their current plan expires. When you change providers, you’ll be able to indicate the date you want the switch to occur.
There are many different options for term lengths in the Texas energy market. Different term lengths often have different price points, so if you’re more flexible with the length of your contract, you could get a cheaper rate. Contracts with shorter term lengths are great if you prefer to avoid a long-term commitment while longer contracts usually provide the benefit of longer-term price stability.
Twenty bucks compared to a $2,000 bill? Not much to write home about, but hey — it’s free money. And, true, you’ll still get some free money when you use less energy, but rewards only really seem reward-y if you're shelling out big bucks. That same Compare Electricity Rates plan only yields about $6 in Plenti points per year if you use 500 kWh of electricity each month.
Texas Electricity Rating advocates for consumers and evaluates providers in the Texas electricity market for features and characteristics that typical energy customers may miss, such as high deposits, variable rates, incentives, "free" plans, and minimum usage plans. Our mission is to help consumers find the best electricity providers to fit their individual needs, as well as educate customers about potential marketplace pitfalls.
The price to beat seemed to accomplish its goal of attracting competitors to the market during the period through January 1, 2007. It allowed competitors to enter the market without allowing the incumbents to undercut them in price. It has also given energy consumers the ability to compare energy rates offered by different providers. The less-regulated providers undercut the price to beat by only a small margin given that they must balance lower prices (to attract customers and build market share) with higher prices (needed to reinvest in new power plants). Due to the small difference in competing prices and slow (yearly or so) "buying" process, price decrease due to competition was very slow, and it took a few years to offset the original increase by "traditional" electric providers and move to lower rates.
For example, shoppers for Texas electricity plans in the 77494 ZIP code in Katy, TX, could find 12-month plans for 6.8 cents/kWh in February; by June, electricity rates had increased 27 percent to 9.3 cents/kWh. As of early September, 12-month plans were up again, to 9.9 cents/kWh – a 6.5 percent hike from June and a 46 percent increase just since February.