As a result, power companies have shut down Texas coal plants unable to compete with lower-cost generators. Meanwhile, the low electricity prices of recent years — a function of cheap natural gas — and small profits have discouraged companies from investing in new power plants. ERCOT, which oversees about 90 percent of the state’s power grid, said power reserves that are called on when demand peaks on the hottest summer days have shrunk to the lowest levels since Texas deregulated power markets in 2002.
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.)
With a population of over 28 million and growing, Texas is one of the most highly inhabited states in the US. In order to power the homes and businesses within it, Texas produces more electricity than any other state, using roughly 400,000 million kilowatt-hours and enabling residents to consume billions of dollars worth of electricity. As of 2002, the Texas electricity market was deregulated, allowing residents to select their own electricity provider from one of the numerous service companies.
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.
According to a 2014 report 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."
Like we said, fees don’t necessarily make for a bad plan — although it’s worth it to do the math to see if you can save with another provider. For example, compare Electricity Plans’s Simple Rate 12 plan with its $9.95 base charge, alongside Compare Electricity Rates’s Lowest Electricity Rates 12 plan with a smaller base charge, and Cheapest Electric Company’s Digital Compare Electricity Companies plan with no base charge. We’ll use a Corpus Christi ZIP code and assume 1,000 kWh/month of energy use.
Comparing electricity plans in Humble means more than just looking at plans to find the lowest rate. Be sure to take a look at each plan's Product Details to get a better idea of what each one entails. These fact sheets are more than just supply rates per kWh and term lengths; they include information on base charges, utility fees and cancellation fees. They also can include features such as usage credits, green energy products or even free weekends.
†Offer is available to Texas residential customers who enroll using the Promotion Code “Who Is My Electricity Supplier”. Plan bills a monthly Base Charge, an Energy Charge, and passes through Utility Transmission and Distribution delivery charges. Energy Charges for usage consumed between 9pm and 7am each day is credited back on your bill. The utility charges, including delivery charges for night time hours, are passed through at cost and aggregated on your bill. See Electricity Facts Label for details.
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.