After Senate Bill 7 went into effect in January 2002, nearly 6 million power customers became eligible to choose their energy supplier. That number has grown through the years. By deregulating the state’s energy market, the Texas Senate gave constituents the power to choose. The process of energy deregulation in Texas dismantled the utilities’ monopoly over the electric market and encouraged customers to explore their energy options.
For example, shoppers for Texas electricity plans in the 77494 ZIP code in Katy, TX, could find 12-month plans for 6.8 cents/kWh in February; by June, electricity rates had increased 27 percent to 9.3 cents/kWh. As of early September, 12-month plans were up again, to 9.9 cents/kWh – a 6.5 percent hike from June and a 46 percent increase just since February.

The price to beat seemed to accomplish its goal of attracting competitors to the market during the period through January 1, 2007. It allowed competitors to enter the market without allowing the incumbents to undercut them in price. It has also given energy consumers the ability to compare energy rates offered by different providers. The less-regulated providers undercut the price to beat by only a small margin given that they must balance lower prices (to attract customers and build market share) with higher prices (needed to reinvest in new power plants). Due to the small difference in competing prices and slow (yearly or so) "buying" process, price decrease due to competition was very slow, and it took a few years to offset the original increase by "traditional" electric providers and move to lower rates.


According to a typical economic theory, prices are optimally determined in a fair and transparent market, and not by a political or academic body. In deregulation of electricity markets, one immediate concern with pricing is that incumbent electricity providers would undercut the prices of new entrants, preventing competition and perpetuating the existing monopoly of providers. Thus, the SB7 bill introduced a phase-in period during which a price floor would be established (for incumbent electricity companies) to prevent this predatory practice, allowing new market entrants to become established. New market entrants could charge a price below the price to beat, but incumbents could not. This period was to last from 2002 to January 1, 2007. As of 2007 Texas investor owned utility affiliates no longer have price to beat tariffs.[6]
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After Senate Bill 7 went into effect in January 2002, nearly 6 million power customers became eligible to choose their energy supplier. That number has grown through the years. By deregulating the state’s energy market, the Texas Senate gave constituents the power to choose. The process of energy deregulation in Texas dismantled the utilities’ monopoly over the electric market and encouraged customers to explore their energy options.
Variable-rate supply plans, as the name suggests, have a rate that varies based on the market price of electricity. Seasonal and market fluctuations can affect supply rates. While variable-rate supply plans can allow you to take advantage of market-price lows, there is the possibility of paying for high supply rates when demand is at its peak. These plans offer great flexibility.
You’ll never experience any interruptions when you switch electricity companies. In fact, service reliability is never affected at all. It typically requires 7 days for the new plan to go into effect and you won’t even notice when it happens. However, you want to make sure that you never make this switch before your current contract is up. Doing so could mean you’ll have to pay early termination fees or penalties.
The local electric company is the utility – that’s the company who owns the infrastructure, including the poles and power lines that deliver electricity to your home. They are who you call if your power goes out or there's an emergency. But in almost every city in Texas, you must choose another company to supply that energy, called a Retail Electric Provider (REP). These REPs, like Spark Energy, allow you to choose electricity plans that offer competitive prices and plans to meet your needs.
Electricity rates in Texas are not fixed. Your rate can vary greatly depending on your usage and your electric plan. Some plans have relatively flat rates, while others can be all over the place. This means that you could end up paying 7¢ for 999 kWhs and 8.5¢ for 1001 kWhs. That would be a 16% increase because you microwaved a few potatoes. Learn more on the different plan types here.
This information is compiled by the Public Utility Commission of Texas from publicly available information from the Retail Electric Providers and PUC approved price to beat rates (through December 2006) using representative usage levels. Rates are calculated using the Commission Approved Residential Load Profile for each service area. The PUC makes no recommendation with respect to any REP. Although we believe these prices are accurate, the PUC makes no warranty that the prices in this table are currently being offered. Please contact the relevant REP for its current offers and terms of service. Information on how to select a REP and contact information for REPs is located at www.powertochoose.com.
Twenty bucks compared to a $2,000 bill? Not much to write home about, but hey — it’s free money. And, true, you’ll still get some free money when you use less energy, but rewards only really seem reward-y if you're shelling out big bucks. That same Direct Energy plan only yields about $6 in Plenti points per year if you use 500 kWh of electricity each month.
Another positive environmental impact is the effect of higher energy prices on consumer choices, similar to the US market trend toward more fuel-efficient cars. As electric bills have risen, residents are reducing their electrical usage by using more moderate thermostat settings, installing insulation, installing solar screens, and other such activities. Texas utilities (such as Austin Energy) are also installing advanced electricity meters that may one day enable variable pricing based on the time of day. This would permit energy customers to save money by further tailoring their consumption based on whether it occurred during the peak demand period (high cost/high pollution) or the off-peak (night time).
Finding the right business electricity plan is an important part of running a successful company, especially in Texas. Depending on the industry, summer electric bills for businesses can double (or more!), so shopping for a competitive rate is important. But who has the time to contact electricity companies and compare different contracts? Many small and medium businesses are shopping for themselves and saving both time and energy costs.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average household in Texas uses about 15,000 kWh of electricity per year — 26 percent more than the national average, “but similar to the amount used in neighboring states.” That said, the only way to know your personal average energy consumption is by looking at your electricity bills over the course of a year (you want to accommodate all weather conditions) and understanding both your overall usage, as well as if you use more or less during certain months.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) does it for you. When you sign up for a plan with a new provider, ERCOT will send you a mailer confirming the switch. You have three days upon receiving the mailer to change your mind. If you don't, you'll have a new provider within seven days, and ERCOT will notify your old provider. Just remember, if you abandon a contract before it's complete, you will be on the hook for any fees or penalties detailed in its Terms of Service.
Prepaid electricity allows you to buy your electricity before consuming it. This is similar to a pre-paid cell phone in that you’ll pay the Retail Electric Provider (REP) upfront. You can then manage how much electricity you use throughout the month. These prepaid energy plans are best for people who can pay their bills on time and can receive notices via text or email. They’re also a good option for anyone who doesn’t have money for a large deposit, people with bad credit, anyone who wants to cut down on their electric use, or who need to split the electric bill with their roommates.

As a renter, you’re likely concerned about getting your electricity contract’s start and end dates to match your lease term as close as possible. In most cases, your electricity provider will offer flexible start dates and some even offer same-day connections. If you can’t line up your electricity contract exactly with your lease term, it’s okay. It’s better to choose an electricity plan with a slightly longer contract term than your apartment lease if necessary. If you move and provide proof of a change in address, your electricity provider cannot charge you an early termination fee.


Free electricity is a phrase you’ll hear a lot about when you’re shopping for a new energy plan. Unfortunately, these plans only offer free electricity on weekends or at night, depending on what energy companies are advertising. This is because there really is no such thing as completely free electricity. In fact, you’ll pay more for your electricity during those hours that aren’t free. For this reason, these plans are best for families who aren’t home during the day and people who work traditional, 9 – 5 jobs.
We often get asked by our subscribers “what is the best electricity company in Texas?”. There are a lot of electricity companies in Texas, so it’s no wonder you want to know what the best electricity companies in Texas are. However, there really isn’t such a thing as one “great” energy company. Of course, there are some companies that are both reliable and well-known. These include Reliant, Direct Energy, TXU, and Gexa. However, when you shop around for an electric provider you’ll find that they all offer competitive rates. Just make sure there aren’t any hidden fees on their plans, as this is what makes them a better choice.
Texas currently produces and consumes more electricity than any other state in the country. This energy consumption is due to its size, but the ample land makes it a major producer of wind power – a renewable, or green, energy source. The environmentally friendly energy created by wind power is available to many Texas residents to supply the electricity in their home or business.
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