Minimum Usage Fees: Often set at or around 1,000 kWh/month, these fees mean you’ll always pay for at least that amount — even if you only use, say, 800 kWh of electricity some months. It sounds nasty, but it’s only something to be concerned about if your electricity bills historically show you hover right around that minimum use threshold. If you’re electricity use always exceeds that amount, it’s like it’s not even there.
“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.
With a population of over 28 million and growing, Texas is one of the most highly inhabited states in the US. In order to power the homes and businesses within it, Texas produces more electricity than any other state, using roughly 400,000 million kilowatt-hours and enabling residents to consume billions of dollars worth of electricity. As of 2002, the Texas electricity market was deregulated, allowing residents to select their own electricity provider from one of the numerous service companies.
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.