Glossary

Aggregator

A broker who acts on behalf of a group of customers to negotiate a bulk energy rate from an energy supplier.

Angle of Incidence

The angle between the direct impact of the sun’s rays and the surface of the solar panel. To get the maximum amount of solar energy, you want the panel to be perpendicular to the sun’s rays. Your solar installer will angle the solar panels to get the maximum amount of energy efficiency.

Array

Several solar panels that are connected together in a single system.

British Thermal Unit (BTU)

A universal measure of energy consumption equal to the amount of energy needed to heat one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.

Broker

A company that facilitates the sale and/or purchase of electricity between businesses and energy suppliers.

Ccf

A unit of volume equal to 100 cubic feet, used by some utilities to measure natural gas.

Demand

The amount of electricity used at any given instant or averaged over a designated period of time. Demand is usually measured in kilowatts (kW) or megawatts (MW). “Peak demand” is the 15- or 30-minute period of highest electricity usage recorded over 12 months.

Deregulation

In short, deregulation means that you now have a choice in who you purchase your electricity and natural gas from. In other words, you can shop around for the energy plan that’s right for you.

Distributed Energy

A term that describes an electricity system in which power is produced at many small sites across the grid rather than at a single large site, such as a power plant. Distributed energy, such as home solar, puts the production of electricity closer to its point of consumption, improving efficiency.

Distribution or Delivery Charge

What you pay for energy delivery over the utility’s power and gas lines. This portion of your electricity bill will remain the same no matter who supplies your energy.

Electric Cooperative (Co-op)

An electric cooperative is a customer-owned electric utility that delivers electricity to its members.

Electricity Facts Label (EFL)

Like the nutrition label found on food, it discloses important information to Texas consumers about your energy supply. It includes the prices, the contract terms, the sources of power generation, and emission levels. The Texas Public Utility Commission requires all energy suppliers to provide an EFL upon request.

Energy Efficiency

A way of managing how much energy we use. Something is energy efficient if it can perform the same task with less energy, like a compact fluorescent bulb, which produces the same amount of light as an incandescent bulb, but uses one-third to one-fifth as much energy.

Energy Services Company (ESCO)

Energy Services Company, or ESCO, is another word for energy supplier. They have the ability to purchase electricity and natural gas for their customers and are the middlemen between the company that actually generates the energy and the local utility who delivers it.

Generation

Generation refers to the production of electricity. Electricity can be generated from natural gas, nuclear, coal, wind, water, and solar energy.

Green Energy

Green energy refers to environmentally friendly energy that is generated from sustainable or renewable sources such as solar, wind, water, or geothermal power.

Greenhouse Gases

Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane are released into the atmosphere when fossil fuels such as coal and oil are burned. These gases contribute to climate change by trapping heat in the atmosphere.

Grid

A grid refers to the electrical distribution network maintained by utility companies – otherwise known as the power grid.

Hybrid System

A hybrid system is a combination of two or more power-generating methods within a single system, for instance a solar array with a generator backup.

Kilowatt-hour (kWh)

This is the unit of electricity that providers use to determine the rate they charge for electricity use.

A kilowatt-hour refers to an amount of electrical power (measured in kilowatts) used over a given time (measured in hours). For example, if you ran an air conditioner with a power-level requirement of one kilowatt for an hour, you would use a single kilowatt-hour. Likewise, if you used a computer with a power-level requirement of 120 watts for eight hours, you would also use a single kilowatt-hour.

Kilowatt (kW)

A unit of electrical power that measures the amount of energy either consumed or produced by a device. Many household appliances and machines require a certain amount of electrical power, measured in kilowatts, in order to run. For instance, an air conditioner has a power-level requirement of 1000 Watts, or one kilowatt.

Load

Load refers to the total amount electrical power being used over a given period of time.

Mcf

An Mcf is a unit of volume equal to 1,000 cubic feet, used by some utilities to measure natural gas.

Megawatt (MW)

A megawatt is a measure of electrical power equal to one million Watts.

Module

A module is a collection of solar photovoltaic cells connected together in a single panel.

Municipal Aggregation

Some states allow for municipal aggregation, in which local municipalities and counties negotiate a bulk energy rate for all the homes and businesses within their jurisdiction.

Municipal- or City-Owned Utility

A municipal- or city-owned utility is a non-profit utility that is owned and operated by the municipality it serves. In Texas, city-owned utilities get to decide whether their customers can choose their energy supplier. Customers should contact their electric cooperative or city utility for more information.

Net Metering

Net metering is a process that allows consumers with home solar panels to sell any excess energy produced back to the utility company. If your home solar panels produce more energy than you use, that excess energy can also be rolled over to next month’s bill.

Off-Grid Electric

An off-grid electric system is a stand-alone energy system that works independently from the main electrical power grid.

Photovoltaic (PV)

Photovoltaic refers to a method of converting solar energy into electricity. Solar panels are frequently referred to as photovoltaic panels or cells.

Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)

A contract that defines the terms between an electricity generator (the seller) and one looking to purchase electricity, typically a utility or an independent energy supplier).

Price to Compare

If you purchase gas or electricity from your local utility, the “Price to Compare” is a line item on your bill and is the benchmark you can use to compare the costs of different energy plans. If you can find a electricity or natural gas rate lower than the “Price to Compare,” it may be advantageous to switch your energy supplier.

Provider of Last Resort

A stopgap energy provider who will supply your electricity and/or natural gas should the supplier you contracted with exit the market for any reason. Should this happen, Choose Energy can help you establish service with a new energy supplier.

Real-Time Pricing

When energy costs change according to the time of day. Utilities will post the rates ahead of time and consumers will be able to plan their energy usage accordingly, running appliances that draw more power at times when energy is cheaper.

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy refers to energy that is generated from renewable sources, like wind, geothermal and solar power.

Renewable Energy Certificates (REC)

Also known as a Renewable Energy Credit, a REC represents one megawatt hour (mWh) of energy generated from a renewable source, such as solar or wind. By purchasing the REC from someone who has generated renewable energy and fed it into the grid, consumers can offset their own fossil-fuel generated electricity. In effect, RECs allows consumers to certify that a portion of their energy came from a renewable source.

Rescission Period

In Illinois, this term refers to the period of time between the end of a contract and its renewal. If you want to move from one supplier to another, you can do so during this time without fear of Early Termination Fees.

Retail Electric Provider (REP)

A company that sells electricity to customers. All Retail Electric Providers must be certified to do business by their local Public Utility Commission. In Texas, some REPs are owned and operated by local utility companies, who are also responsible for delivering electricity. These companies are called Affiliated Retail Electric Providers.

Solar Cell

The photovoltaic device that converts sunlight into electricity. Multiple solar cells are combined within a solar panel in order to generate a sufficient amount of electricity.

Solar Lease

A financing method for home solar installation. It refers to an agreement in which a homeowner pays a monthly fee for use of the solar panels. Solar leases typically last for between 15-25 years. The advantage of a solar lease is that you don’t have to pay any upfront costs to go solar.

Solar Panel

A collection of solar cells mounted within a frame for use in a solar PV system installation.

Solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)

A financing method for home solar installation. It refers to an agreement in which a homeowner has a solar system installed at little to no cost. In return, the homeowner agrees to purchase the power provided by the solar installation – typically at rates well-below the market price.

Stand-alone

A solar system that is not connected to the power grid. Stand-alone systems only provide electricity when they are receiving energy from the sun. Some stand-alone systems are connected to a battery bank for storing electricity generated.

Supply Charges

The portion of your electricity bill that goes to pay for the actual energy consumed. It is also the portion of your electricity bill that you have control over. You can reduce your supply charges by comparing plans from different suppliers.

Teaser Rates

Some energy suppliers try to lure customers with teaser rates far below the going market rate. That teaser rate goes up after a few months, leaving the customer stuck paying much higher prices. By shopping with Choose Energy, you can be assured that there are no hidden costs or tricks with any of the plans on offer: what you see is what you get.

Terms of Service (TOS)

Contract between an energy supplier and a customer that outlines fees, length of service, and other important information.

Therm

A unit of heat used to measure natural gas volume. It is equivalent to the energy produced by one Ccf, or 100 cubic feet of natural gas.

Tilt Angle

The angle between a solar array and the surface it’s mounted onto. This is different from the Angle of Incidence, which refers to the angle between a solar array and the sun’s rays.

Transmission and Distribution Service Provider (TDSP)

This is the company that manages the physical infrastructure that delivers power to homes and businesses.

Usage

The measurement of energy used during the billing cycle. On your electric bill, the usage is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh), while on your natural gas bill, it can be measured in therms, Mcf (thousands of cubic feet), or Ccf (hundreds of cubic feet).

Utility

This refers to the company that generates and delivers electricity to your home or business. Even if you purchase your energy supply from another company, the utility is still responsible for reliably delivering that energy to your home or business.

“Your Rights as a Customer” (YRAC) Disclosure

A document that informs you of your rights as an energy consumer. Energy suppliers must provide you with this disclosure as mandated by local authorities.