How to compare energy providers in Texas
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An easy way to understand energy choice is to take a look at your electricity bill. You’ll see that it is made up of two main parts: distribution or delivery charges, and supply charges. The distribution of your electricity through power lines is a service is provided by your local utility. However, the supply portion of your bill, usually shown as the price per kilowatt-hour is the part you have control over.
There are several electricity companies that compete for your business by offering plans with unique features like low or fixed rates, rates based on the amount of energy you use, free perks like a Nest smart thermostat, and even energy from renewable sources.
The history of Texas energy deregulation
Texans have had the opportunity to choose their energy supplier since 2002. And so far, almost 6 million have. However, there are some areas in Texas that are served by municipal electric companies or utility cooperatives, where you can’t switch suppliers.
Texas is broken up into six utility zones and most suppliers set rates based on your utility:
- AEP Texas Central
- AEP Texas North
- CenterPoint Energy
- Oncor Electric Delivery
- Sharyland Utilities
- Texas-New Mexico Power
In Texas, utilities do not offer electric supply and you must shop around for the energy you need. This means that the market is competitive and that helps to keep costs low.
Public Utility Commission of Texas
The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) plays a role in energy choice by facilitating competitive supplier choices and educating Texans. PUCT also authorizes licenses for electricity suppliers to ensure they have met strict requirements for doing business in Texas.
Regardless of which electric company you choose, your electricity will continue to be delivered safely and reliably by the local wires company, which is regulated by the PUCT.
If you experience a power outage you should call the local wires company (often called the Transmission and Distribution Utility, or TDU) for your area.
Minimum Usage Fees
Many electric providers and plans require you to use a certain amount of electricity per month. If you use less than the minimum amount you will be charged an additional fee. This fee is not always itemized on your bill so keep a close eye on your monthly bill to know if you are being charged additional fees. Not all plans require a minimum fee, so if you are a low energy use household or travel often you may want to select a plan that does not include minimum use fees, even if the price per kwh is slightly higher.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009 Texas Electric deregulation in Texas came into effect as of January 1, 2002. The deregulation itself is going to be phased in over several years, but …