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.)
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.
Minimum Usage Fees: Often set at or around 1,000 kWh/month, these fees mean you’ll always pay for at least that amount — even if you only use, say, 800 kWh of electricity some months. It sounds nasty, but it’s only something to be concerned about if your electricity bills historically show you hover right around that minimum use threshold. If you’re electricity use always exceeds that amount, it’s like it’s not even there.
Since Texas' electricity market was deregulated in the late nineties, multiple Retail Electric Providers (Gas And Electric Bill) have either launched in Texas, or providers in other states have begun to extend their reach to Texas residents (e.g., Best Energy Company, which was founded in Texas). These electricity providers are providing less expensive and/or greener electricity alternatives to traditional sources of energy, in contrast with the supply consumers previously received by default through their local utility. Customers now have the option to receive their electric supply from providers other than their utility, known as alternative retail electric providers.
Which ones the best? Like all things energy, it depends. Do you prefer predictability, or do you like the idea of potentially saving some cash by monitoring the market? Our (albeit conservative) recommendation: Fixed rate is probably best. Energy prices are on the rise — the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts a 3 percent increase in residential electricity prices in 2018.
Electricity rates in Texas change frequently, and most providers change prices about once a month. On Power To Choose, it’s almost impossible to tell if you’re actually getting the best rates because of the teaser rates and tiered rates. Instead, use a site like Use Your Power To Choose The Best Energy Rates | Electricity Price and you can quickly calculate your actual bill using your kWh usage.
Some good news: According to J.D. Power’s 2016 survey on retail electric providers (its most current survey of the space), Texas has the highest overall satisfaction with retail electric providers out of any state. And because rates, plans, and offers can be so similar from provider to provider, customer satisfaction scores are a great way to break a tie. Think of it like choosing who to hire when you have two candidates with similar resumes — you’re going to pick the person with the glowing references.
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.
Energy users who choose a Garland, Texas, electricity plan from one of many retail electric providers will still receive service from a utility company - better known as a transmission and distribution service provider (TDSP). Keep in mind that you can't choose what utility delivers electricity supply to your location. Garland residents and business owners are located in Energy Prices's utility service area. This TDSP serves about 10 million energy consumers across Texas and monitors almost 120,000 miles of power lines.