How does that work? Spark Energy buys electricity and competes in the market for the best price -- a competition that ultimately drives prices down and allows us to deliver more value for your money. In Texas, switching to a different electricity provider is kind of like changing to a different long distance company. When you switch to Spark Energy, the utility will continue to deliver electricity to your home but Spark Energy will handle all the billing, including the utility’s delivery fees and the electricity you actually use.
If your monthly use hovers around the 2,000 kWh mark, you’ll be spending around $2,000 per year on electricity bills no matter which REP you choose. With that level of investment, you may be tempted by an offer to get something extra in return — like rewards. Direct Energy is notable because it’s a part of American Express’s Plenti rewards program. For every dollar you spend on your Direct Energy plan, you earn a “Plenti point,” which you can then redeem on purchases with retail partners like Macy’s, AT&T, and Exxon.
Just like most of all the items you buy, you need to carefully choose the right electricity plan that is best suited for yourself and/or your family. Consider the amount of energy you currently consume, usage behavior and what electric rate will save you the most money. Some electricity plans have maximum or minimum electric usage restrictions. Others offer free electricity during certain hours or days of the week, such as; free weekends electricity or free nights electricity plans. No deposit and no credit check electricity is also available for those with low credit scores.
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, www.powertochoose.org) 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.)
Month-to-month electric plans are more commonly known as variable rate plans. With these plans the amount you pay per kilowatt-hour for your electricity each month will vary. This price is based on fluctuations in the market, so when the price of electricity falls you’ll pay less, but when it rises, you’ll pay more. In other words, you’re really gambling and should realize ahead of time that what you pay for your electric will change every month. This is why month-to-month electricity plans are only best for people who need electricity for a short amount of time.
The PUC’s mission is to protect customers, foster competition, and promote high-quality infrastructure. In addition to regulating the states electric utilities and implementing legislation, the PUC offers Texas residents assistance in resolving consumer complaints. If you have a complaint with your electricity company you can go to the official PUC website and file an informal complaint.