Like we said, fees don’t necessarily make for a bad plan — although it’s worth it to do the math to see if you can save with another provider. For example, compare TXU Energy’s Simple Rate 12 plan with its $9.95 base charge, alongside Direct Energy’s Live Brighter 12 plan with a smaller base charge, and Reliant’s Digital Discount plan with no base charge. We’ll use a Corpus Christi ZIP code and assume 1,000 kWh/month of energy use.
In environmental impact, results are mixed. With the ability to invest profits to satisfy further energy demand, producers like TXU are proposing eleven new coal-fired powerplants. Coal powerplants are cheaper than natural gas-fired powerplants, but produce more pollution. When the private equity firms Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and the Texas Pacific Group announced the take-over of TXU, the company which was known for charging the highest rates in the state and were losing customers, they called off plans for eight of the coal plants. TXU had invested more heavily in the other three. A few weeks later the buyers announced plans for two cleaner IGCC coal plants.
There are two main types of pricing in contracts: fixed and variable. With a fixed contract, the electric rate price you sign up for cannot change for the duration of your contract. With a variable contract, the rate price is subject to increase or decrease each day or month, based on the time of year and price of electricity for the provider at that moment. Variable pricing is often higher, but may be a good choice for those that don’t want to be locked into a contract.
Not only does it show customers the real rates at different usage levels but it reflects both the rate jumps in a plan at certain usage. It also shows whether the rate is high or low compared to general electricity market pricing. By doing all the calculations for the customer, Texas Electricity Ratings' Rate Analyzer can show customers what their best energy options are when they shop for Texas electricity no matter what TDU area they are in. Customers can see how much they can really expect to pay each month for their usage.
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In a regulated electricity market you’re “forced” to buy your electricity from the local utility at a price that’s determined by your state and federal government. Typically, this is who you’ll pay your electric bill to, as well. However, if you live in Texas you live in a deregulated energy market. This means the state’s regulations are lifted. You can choose who provides your electricity and what price you pay for it.
Some good news: According to J.D. Power’s 2016 survey on retail electric providers (its most current survey of the space), Texas has the highest overall satisfaction with retail electric providers out of any state. And because rates, plans, and offers can be so similar from provider to provider, customer satisfaction scores are a great way to break a tie. Think of it like choosing who to hire when you have two candidates with similar resumes — you’re going to pick the person with the glowing references.
Due to the increased usage of natural gas immediately after deregulation, new-era energy tools such as wind power and smart-grid technology were greatly aided. Texas' first "renewable portfolio standard" — or requirement that the state's utilities get a certain amount of their power from renewable energy like wind — was signed into law in 1999, as part of the same legislation that deregulated the electric market.
Fixed-rate plans: Fixed-rate plans give customers more stability for their monthly energy bills because the rate a customer signs up with is the rate he or she pays for the length of the plan’s contract. Most fluctuation comes with usage, though transmission and delivery charges and local fees also can change.. Because a fixed-rate plan sometimes spans two-three years, these plans often require a customer credit check and can include early cancellation fees. Fixed-rate plans, because of the continuing market volatility, probably are the best choice for many consumers.