The Texas Senate Bill 7, passed in 2002, gave 5.6 million Texans the power to choose a retail electric provider (REP) to supply electricity to their home or business. This bill facilitated a competitive energy marketplace that 85 percent of Texans can capitalize on today. Energy choice is available to residents in Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth as well as other cities in Texas.
“Retail electricity providers” began offering the sale of electricity supply shortly after deregulation began. Texans are not required to switch to a retail electricity provider, and will continue to receive the supply of electricity from their default utility until they decide to switch. Utilities have no incentive to supply electricity since they are required by law to resell electric supply at no profit. The utilities can only profit from the transmission and delivery of the electricity – which is not affected by which company sells the supply of electricity. Since the utilities often charge higher rates than electricity providers, there is little reason to stay with the utility for electric supply.
Like most Texas residents, as a business owner you can shop around and choose the right electricity plan for your business. Thank you deregulation! Choices include basic business energy plans (typically 12 – 60 months), tiered rate plans where the energy rate decreases each year, plans with a cheaper energy rate at night, and even plans that contribute to veteran organizations. The options are growing as electricity companies get more creative and tailor their plans to different industries.
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.
Once you narrowed down your choice for Texas electricity providers, research each company carefully. Visit review sites online to see what current and former customers have to say about a company. Many companies are also on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter where you can easily interact with other customers and the company if you have any questions before signing up.
Fixed-Rate Plans: These plans are steady and predictable; the price per kWh you sign up for will remain that same for the entirety of your contract. (The only changes in your bill will be from forces outside of your REP's control, like changes in TDU fees, or changes in federal, state, or local laws.) Often fixed-rate plans will have a slightly higher price per kWh than others, but you're paying for the predictability. They're great if you live by your budget – and even greater if you happen to sign up when rates are low. The fixed-rate plans of our five Texas providers typically started at 12 months, with some extending up to three years, but we spotted a couple from Reliant that offered fixed rates for six month contracts as well.
Since the State of Texas allowed us the power to choose the energy provider we want to use, we have seen an increase of electricity companies in Texas. But having so many electricity plans to choose from can also be confusing. With your desire to find the most reliable electricity company and the energy plan with the cheapest rate, choosing the right provider is not as easy as it seems. But fortunately you have us!
In order to prompt entry into the market, the price to beat would have to be high enough to allow for a modest profit by new entrants. Thus, it had to be above the cost of inputs such as natural gas and coal. For example, a price to beat fixed at the actual wholesale procurement price of electricity does not give potential entrants a margin to compete against incumbent utilities. Second, the price to beat would have to be reasonably low, to enable as many customers as possible to continue to consume electricity during the transition period.
Utility companies are responsible for transmission and delivery of electricity even in energy deregulated parts of Texas and should be contacted in the event of a power outage. Your retail energy supplier may provide you competitive electric rates or exceptional customer service, but they cannot repair power lines or restore your service. In the case of an emergency, contact: