Electric Deregulation

We are in the middle of having to decide a new retail electric provider (REP); the deadline is mid-April. Today I decided to face it head-on and do my research. Some providers showed up at a recent “meet and greet” sponsored by our current provider who is no longer able to stay our provider due to deregulation. Only a handful showed up, but one handout given to us listed 26 potential providers, with phone numbers and their websites. Whew…

The most helpful websites I found to sort through the options were powertochoose.org and also currentchoice.com. Another helpful site with great tips to choose a provider in Texas is WatchdogNation.com.

Some hints I picked up is to check the complaint scorecard and complaint history that shows up on powertochoose.com. Also, hidden or recurring fees you don’t think about (some providers charge more if you use less than 1000 Kwh per month, which can negate savings you anticipated when signing up). Review each and every one of your past electric bills for monthly Kwh usage to find how many months you were under 1000 Kwh. This is a variable, but should have some consistency (when you are out of town, or the months when the seasons change and temps are more neutral and heating or cooling is rarely used).

Some providers have cancellation of contract fees; read that carefully. The amounts can vary a lot.

On the plus side, some users give a “discount” if you reach 2000 Kwh or more per month.

I also looked over the individual websites. How user friendly they are, and also if they have a sample bill to look at is also helpful. How much usable information is on the bill for you to see? Who to call for power outages, customer service phone, usage history, etc.

The provider I like also has opportunity to signup for a free service that helps you monitor your usage daily and compensate you (i.e., credit back to your bill) for help in lowering energy usage at critical energy events through email updates. Strictly voluntary and at no charge to participate, but a definite benefit to me, the consumer, and the power grid as a whole.

It is also important to periodically (annually is a good time frame) review rates your provider has. You can opt out of your contract with advance notice and there could be fees involved so read and know your contract. It is easy to move from one provider to another without any service interruption.

It is a head-spinning world to navigate. I think we have chosen our new provider and am very comfortable with the choice.


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