“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.
As a result, 85%[1] of Texas power consumers (those served by a company not owned by a municipality or a utility cooperative) can choose their electricity service from a variety of retail electric providers (REPs), including the incumbent utility. The incumbent utility in the area still owns and maintains the local power lines (and is the company to call in the event of a power outage) and is not subject to deregulation. Customers served by cooperatives or municipal utilities can choose an alternate REP only if the utility has "opted in" to deregulation; to date, only the area served by the Nueces Electric Cooperative has chosen to opt in.

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.


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.
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.
In this free market competing electricity retailers buy electricity wholesale from private power generators to sell at retail to around 85% of Texas residents. The partnership between generators and retailers is governed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, which attempts to balance the power grid’s electricity supply and demand by purchasing small amounts of electricity at 15-minute intervals throughout the day.
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