With Texas State Assistance Why Are Prepaid Electric Providers Necessary?

You would think that with all the government assistance programs these days there would be no need for these prepaid electric companies that get you to pay in advance for your electric service.

In reality the state services are not used by many people that qualify simply because there are plenty of hurdles for most of us just to get that assistance.

For instance, the reason people choose to go with a prepaid provider is because they were asked by a traditional company for a large deposit.

Now comes the need for a way to waive your electric deposit. If you call one of the many organizations that work in tandem with the Department of Health and Human Services they will tell you what you need to do to qualify.

You must as a start be a disabled adult. If you are disabled and show proof that your life is in danger by use of a doctor’s note faxed or emailed to your electric provider you can receive a waiver for your electric deposit.

Many of us have some disability and I venture to guess if you contacted the right doctor you could even get a psychologist to justify a reason that it is medically necessary that your electric deposit be waived.

Fortunately not everyone is out to work the state government system to that degree but yet there are people out there that make their whole existence about working the system in every way possible.

For the rest of us who simply have bad credit, low credit, no credit, or just don’t like dealing with a bureaucracy a prepaid provider is your best choice for waiving your electric deposit.

On average you will spend about $400 more annually by choosing a prepaid provider but since smart meter technology has gone into full effect this disparity is dramatically dropping.

You can now sign up with many prepaid providers in the market at exactly the same prices traditional electric companies charge.

How is this possible? The smart meter precisely measures your electric usage at the meter and sends it real time so your money is charged against this usage more accurately than ever before.

No longer are the days of estimating your electric usage based on a prior tenant who lived at your home or apartment a year ago.

In the past people would sometimes be charged $200 more per month than what they actually used because of estimates like these.

After 6 months to a year of inaccurate measurements a correction of charges called a true-up was made and the customer would be refunded the extra money they were charged.

There is now no reason to estimate usage with real time data available and so more people who want to keep that extra $300 – $500 in their pocket are doing so.

Electricity deposits can be very expensive but the prepaid provider offers the easiest manner of avoiding that large fee and getting lights on fast.

Our comparison tool in green offers both traditional and prepaid electric companies. Enter your zipcode and give it a whirl! 

Nations Power Prepaid Texas Electric Company Review

I discovered a new prepaid electric company opened up in Texas today called Nations Power. This company offers a fixed kilowatt hour rate as well as a variable pay what you can plan.

Regardless if you go with a traditional electric company that gives you 30 – 45 days to pay your bill or you go with a prepaid provider where you pay in advance I would choose the fixed rate every time.

Many electric companies will not hesitate to raise your variable rate on you beyond what you were expecting.

It is true not all variable rate plans are bad but to be on the safe side a fixed electric rate with Nations Power is probably the way to go.

The reason you would want to order electric service through a prepaid electric company like Nations Power is if you know you will not be able to afford deposits by other providers.

The Texas government does offer assistance to low-income families for deposits and rate subsidies but for most of us the hassle in qualifying for these assistance programs is simply not worth it.

If your credit is okay or bad you will likely have to pay a deposit with most all the Texas electric companies.

For instance, if you call TXU and Reliant they will likely both ask for a deposit ranging from $200 – $500 depending on how bad your credit is.

Of course if you have good credit no deposit is needed. Now lets say you have called these two large electric companies, TXU and Reliant, if you go on to call Bounce, Green Mountain, and Texas Power they will likely ask for a deposit as well.

Why would all these providers ask for a deposit? They all work from a credit checking service to manage their risk. There is about a 50% customer default rate below a certain credit score number and what score this is remains a tightly held secret.

There is simply no way of working with a provider that bills you 30 days out for service in negotiating a deposit and that is why a company like Nations Power can come in handy.

By going with a prepaid electric company you avoid the deposit but will sacrifice on price. Most prepaid electric companies have higher prices than traditional electric companies that check your credit.

Nations Power is based out of Allen Texas and has recently launched their company as a Texas prepaid electric provider. You may reach them at (866) 356-6850.

If you have used this prepay electric company please give our community feedback in a review format in the comment section below.

Interesting to note, the company with the same PUCT license number is Catalyst Energy Inc. which is a PA oil and gas exploration company. The activities of Catalyst encompass the exploration, development, production, transmission and processing of oil, natural gas and liquid hydrocarbons. Since Texas relies on natural gas for the production of much of the electricity it is worth noting that Catalyst now has a stake in both the production and retail aspect of natural gas. There is often an inverse relation to the cost of producing electricity using natural gas and the actual cost of natural gas. If these two factors of natural gas price and “heat rate” are managed well there can be a big payoff in being in the production and retail side of natural gas. Most important is to not gamble to much in the process of doing both.

DPI Energy a Prepaid Electric Provider Requests Permission to Sell to TruSmart Energy Holdings

DPI Energy is one of the popular prepaid electric companies in Texas but like many prepay companies there are often challenges with staying within PUCT rules and regulations to operate as a licensed Texas electric provider. DPI Energy’s owner, Amvensys Capital Group LLC. has requested PUCT approval to sell all of DPI’s units to TruSmart Energy Holdings LLC.

One of the PUCT points when a change of ownership is made is that it is not used to get around a rule or regulation while yet still maintaining similar management or ownership however behind the scenes and hidden they may be. From the PUCT research they conclude that the sale appears to consistent with the terms if the settlement agreement from Sept 15th 2011 as written about on the PUCT website.

Once the PUCT staff have received all exhibits and schedules of the sale agreement they will be able to make final recommendations to the commission of the sale and proceed with allowing it to take place. The change of ownership application was received on October 6th and is being reviewed. The staff has until October 24th to file recommendations regarding this sale. So long as the commission finds that the sale agreement complies with the terms of the settlement previously established by the commission and DPI they sale and change of ownership should go through.

There will be a change in ownership and control as well as technical and managerial qualifications. TruSmart will show proof of shareholder equity in TruSmart no less than $1 million dollars and a stand by letter of credit payable to the PUCT commission of $500,000. These requirements insure that the electric customers and ERCOT are protected against possible bad execution, default, and bankruptcy of the electric provider. TruSmart currently has Texas electric customers and is in compliance with all PUCT rules and has no history of default with their load servicing company.

This sale should be a big positive in an industry that has seen its fair share of prepaid electric companies keep prepayments and true-ups of their customers and close down business leaving the state with huge profits instead of selling when it was expedient and right to do so.

Prepaid Electricity Company Rules in Texas

The PUCT of Texas has written some new rules for the public to review about if prepaid electricity companies in Texas should begin transitioning their customers over to a HAN device (Home Area Network). This is typically a ZigBee Smart Energy chip on the meter that allows a home electric meter to send back real time prepaid electricity data to the electric utility. As of June 2009 there were no commercially available in-home devices for checking your real time prepaid electricity meter data however the PUCT has made it available on their portal but you have to wait one day before you can see it. Start looking out for the smart meter Texas portal which will be available for anyone with a smart meter as well as those prepaid electricity customers using a smart meter and Zigbee smart meter chip to allow prepaid information to transfer over to the electric utility. At this time this smart meter payment system is not available for prepaid electricity customers in Texas. You will need to continue to use Ace Cash, telephone payment, and other arrangements.

How Often Can Prepaid Electricity Payments be Made?

A prepaid pay as you go electric company in Texas must allow you to make payment weekly. So if you want to prepay for your electric service every week they cannot decline your payment. The prepaid electric company must let you know atleast every two weeks what your estimated current balance is, the time and date, and estimated number of days of remaining electric service on your account.

A prepaid electric company must respond to your request to what your remaining prepaid balance is by atleast the following day prior to 5 p.m.

How To Qualify For An Electric Rate Discount?

If you qualify for an electric rate discount from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Texas Lite Up program then the prepaid electric provider must assist with working with these agencies. The pay as you go electric company must assist with provisioning energy assistance that comes from DHHS or Texas Lite Up.

It should be noted that a prepaid electricity company is not responsible for making sure your information is accurate with the DHHS. If there is even a difference with a phone number or date of birth you will be declined by Texas Lite Up. Unfortunately Texas Lite Up does not communicate this to the electric company so you will want to call and find out from both the provider and Texas Lite Up what information they have on file for you is. Everything must match or your assistance will be declined.

If you qualify for food stamps or other government assistance you will automatically qualify for energy assistance provided your information is the same at both places. Be sure to check!

Why Not Use a Traditional Electricity Company in Texas?

Considering that prepaid electricity companies in Texas charge the highest energy prices among all providers why not pay a deposit and save several hundred dollars? If you are considering a pay as you go Texas electric company you are likely a low-income electric service customer. The department of health and human service and Lite-Up Texas already have a rate assistance program for you. Texas electric companies are required to work with DHHS low income residents in working out arrangements to lower deposit amounts as well as your per kWh electric rate. Prepaid electric companies will end up costing you a fortune but a traditional electric company will give you a cheap price for energy and you can avoid the deposit. Try some of these traditional electricity companies in Texas first before going with a pay as you go energy company. You can try Champion Energy, Bounce Energy, Ambit Energy, TXU Energy, Startex Power, Green Mountain Energy, Reliant Energy, and the list goes on. Some will be easier to work with than others but ultimately your price per kWh and customer experience will be better served with one of these electric companies than by using a pay as you go provider.

Required Notifications To Help Avoid Being Disconnected

At the time you enroll with a prepaid electricity company you should be notified by them about how and when payments should be made. How and when account statements will be made available to you. How is electric service usage estimated. If you will receive a notice to pay for more service prior to being disconnected. When will these statements be delivered and how long after delivery do you have to prepay before disconnection. How and when you will be told of your remaining electric usage balance including time and date, and estimated number of days left.

Understand Your Fixed Electricity Rate

If your pay as you go electric company is offering you a fixed electricity rate they are required to disclose: price per kWh, number of kWh the fixed cost is based on, a statement about whether the price will change and why. Some electricity companies are advertising a fixed price based on teh current market prices but when your electric switch occurs charging you a different price. Be sure to watch out and ask about this practice before choosing a prepaid electric company.

A Facts Label Clearly Identifies What Makes Up Your Electric Rate

An electricity facts label is required by the PUCT to be offered to a pay as you go electricity customer. The facts label is like a food label on a can of food and should spell everything out for you. Some providers however will quote one price on the Facts Label and charge you something different. They get away with this practice because they say the price on the Electricity Facts Label was based on that date and not the date of the electric switch. Be sure to ask about this before choosing an energy company.

How Long Do I have To Change My Mind?

You have 3 days to change your mind about signing up with your prepaid electric company. The 3 days starts when your electric service is officially switched and turned on and not when they receive the contract from you.

Is The Advertised Electric Rate What Your Are Paying Now?

A prepaid electric company cannot charge more per kWh than what the provider of last resort is charging. You will have to contact the PUCT to see what the POLR rate currently is.

Somewhere on the electricity bill you should see something that says, “the average price you paid for electric service is”. This will be the electric rate per kWh you are paying. Make sure this rate matches what they advertised to you.

Pay As You Go Electricity Usage Estimates

The prepaid electricity provider should use historical electricity usage data that you have accumulated to revise their usage estimates. If your prepaid electricity company is using estimated usage from the previous tenant even though they have several months of your usage data they could be overcharging you by a lot.

Prepaid Electricity Bill Due Dates

A payment due date should be listed on the electric bill you receive from your pay as you go electric company. Be sure to look out for this.

If the Texas prepaid electric company has a 24 x 7 call center or payment center receive payments than they can make the bill due no later than 5 days after you receive it. Make sure you send in payment or you could risk a disconnection. I would try making payment late in the night to test whether or not they have a 24×7 payment center as this 5 day due date can be a little difficult especially if there are times when you cannot pay.

If the pay as you go electricity provider does not have a 24 x 7 payment center than the due date cannot be less than 10 days after the customer receives the bill.

If your bill is sent by email then according to the PUCT you received it the day the electric provider emailed it to you.

When Is A Prepaid Electric Bill Considered Late?

Your electricity service payment is considered late if it is not received before close of business on the payments due date. During holidays the electric bill due date is extended to the next business day after the holiday.

Prepaid Electricity Facts Label

Your electricity facts label should indicate the number of days a payment of $20, $50, $100, and $200 can be expected to last at monthly usahe levels of 500 kWh, 1,000 kWh, and 2,000 kWh.

The Proper Disconnection Notice You May Receive From A Prepaid Company

The disconnection notice can be sent along with your electric bill or request for a deposit. “Disconnection Notice” should be prominently displayed on the notice. The disconnection date cannot be a holiday, weekend day, or day that the REP is not available to take payment. The disconnection cannot occur less than 5 days after the notice is issued if they have a 24×7 payment center. If the prepaid electric company is not open all hours to take payments then you have a full7 days to make your late payment before being disconnected.

Being Underbilled For Several Months

If you were underbilled for several months and then all of a sudden you receive a gigantic electric bill you have some options. The PUCT allows for you to be put on a deferred billing arrangement with your pay as you go electric supplier. You can pay in $50 installments until you have paid back the underbilled amount without being disconnected for non-payment.

Electric Service For Critical Care Customers

If you have a serious illness and tell the electric provider that if they were to disconnect you it could cause serious harm to yourself and even death than they must send you a waiver. The waiver basically states that you agree to be disconnected if you make a late payment. If you choose not to sign this waiver the REP must switch you to another product or electric provider that avoids a disconnection in electric service.

Pre Buy Electric Company Profile

Sign up with Bounce Energy – Low Deposit Plans – Click Here

Bounce Energy’s “Low Deposit Plans” allow you to sign up with a low deposit Texas electric rate. Call 1-866-945-8937 and ask for the “Low Deposit Plan”

Another Texas Electric Company down, Hit by Unhedged Energy and skyrocketing prices

Today it was announced that Pre Buy Electric has gone out of business. The way this company sold energy is pretty obvious from their name. The Texas electric provider would have their customers pre pay for energy so there is no need for a deposit and if they havn’t paid a previous electric company, well no problem you have to pre pay with Pre Buy Electric so the choice was simple for many people. One of the down falls of Pre Buy Electric Company wasn’t the fact that they had a customer base of about 9,000 bad credit risks because these customers bought their energy in advance so the risk was minimal to Pre Buy. The issue once again is bad risk management. What I mean by risk management is that Pre Buy Electric Company did not properly hedge their energy in the Texas market. In order to insure you make money and don’t expose yourself to a high level of risk an electric provider in Texas has to buy natural gas futures and then hedge this energy in case of any potential price volatility that puts their profit margin into backwards teritory. No one wants to lose money after selling an electricity rate to a customer but that is what several companies have done by putting themselves into the position of having sold energy without hedging it expecting the market to stay in a particular safe territory.

If you are one of the unlucky ones that were taken off of PreBuy Electric by the Texas government and put on the POLR rate you are paying a high inflated electric rate. You want to start shopping for an alternate electric provider as soon as possible as you will not want to pay a full months electric bill at the POLR rate. The POLR electric rate was created by the Texas grid operator as a back up plan if an electric company were to go out of business. We were told by Prebuy that they have not filed for bankruptcy but it looks like they may be scrambling to do something like this pretty soon as they have lost all of their 9,000 energy customers. Read below for low cost electric providers who will be happy to get you off the POLR rate and onto a more competitive electric price. Keep in mind that over 5 differnt electric companies in the months of APril May and June have gone under for similar reasons. It is important to pick a good provider. As of June 4th Etricity Electric Company is the latest provider to go under leaving 15,000 searching for a new Texas electric provider.

I am a PreBuy Electric Customer, What Should I Do?

PreBuy Electric has right under 9,000 customers which were switched to POLR or the provider of last resort at an inflated electric rate.* In Dallas Fort Worth the POLR company is TXU Energy and in Houston the POLR company is Reliant Energy. The POLR company was established as a back up so that if an energy company goes bankrupt the customers with that Texas electric company do not lose electric service. PreBuy ELectric failed to pay their financial obligations to the Texas grid operator, (The Electric Reliability Council of Texas) and were forced into bankruptcy. If you are a PreBuy Electric customer you want to shop for a competitive Texas residential electric provider as you are on the POLR uncompetitive rate that is meant as a temporary solution so you are not without power. The Texas POLR back up plan is a great idea but is only a temporary solution and is higher then the going competitive market rate.

The Texas Power Companies History

The senior business partners at PreBuy Electric pioneered the prepaid electric market in Texas and have been committed to remain the largest prepaid Texas electric provider. Prebuy Electric serves thousands of customers across Texas. PreBuy Electric was based in Bridgeport TX and is now in Grapevine Texas, PreBuy Power is led by an experienced team of energy managers who are experienced in the deregulated electric market. The pre paid electric provider uses innovative software, that appears to have given them some bad fundemental or technical signals, which was used to keep electric prices as low as possible for their customers. This company never charges a deposit and all Texas customers qualifies for their electric service. Prepay Electric’s slogan is “The PreBuy Advantage”.

Fly by Night Texas Energy Providers in a Similar Situation

Well the electricity market is at a 3 year high in Texas and Pre Buy Electric is not alone in a list of scandalous Texas electricity activities. Riverway Power sent out a notice to their customers that they would not be honoring their electric customers fixed rate energy agreements but would instead be raising the electric price much higher. In the middle of May 2008 not but a few days ago National Power Company had found themselves in a similar unhedged position as Pre Buy Electric. National Power also sent out a letter and told their customers that they coul not honor their fixed electric rate any longer but would be raising multiple fixed rate term agreements from around 11 cents kWh to 15 cents kWh. These issues have since been dealt with in short order by the Public Utility Commission of Texas, thank goodness.

Unable to Pass on Higher Electric Rate Costs

Pre Buy Electric is one of those electric companies that cannot pass on the cost of an unhedged energy rate as their customers never signed a term agreement and can get out at anytime. Of course, it is illegal for an electric company to break a fixed rate agreement but several have tried and been succesful. Recently Riverway and NPC tried to pass on their unhedged energy costs but the PUCT told them they must eat their losses. It makes you wonder of Pre Buy Electric will soon have Riverway and National Power Company following suit? I suspect many of Pre Buy Electric’s customers in Texas left when the rate got so high they couldn’t realistically justify paying such a high rate in comparison to paying a reputable electric company a small $200 – $500 deposit rather then pay an energy bill that would pay that and more in just a few months. It made sense for many of Pre Buy Electric’s customers to leave and find a cheaper electric company even if there was a deposit required. The deposit for most providers helps protect them from customers who never intend to pay their electric bill in the first place which happens more often then you would think. Some providers charge such a high deposit that it discourages anyone who would even think about not paying from even signing up.

Alternative Electric Provider for Pre Buy Electric Customers

If you need an alternative electric company besides the now bankrupt Pre Buy Electric we recommend a very good low cost Texas energy provider who has ethical business practices, a low electric rate, quality customer service, and I use them myself. They are a large electric company in Texas and are offering a discount electric rate to Pre Buy Electric Company customers. The name of the electric provider is Startex Power. You can sign up on their online discount electric rate below.

Pre Buy Electric Detailed Company Profile

Detailed Pre-Buy Electric Company Profile
Pre-Buy Electric is a private company located in Grapevine, TX.

Pre-Buy Electric’s line of business is Texas electric services.

Company Profile: Pre-Buy Electric
Year Started:2005
State of Incorporation:N/A
URL:(www.prebuyelectric.com)
Location Type:Single Location
Stock Symbol:N/A
Stock Exchange:N/A
Also Does Business As:N/A
NAICS:N/A
SIC #Code:4911
Est. Annual Sales:$130,000
Est. Employees:1
Est. Employees at Location:1
Contact Name:Criag Bolin
Contact Title:Owner
Contact Phone Numbers and Emails for PreBuy Electric Company
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This company has been confused with the names Prepaid Electric and Prepay Electric, but is actually called Prebuy Electric which is very close in name and meaning.

*information gained from Tom Fowler with the Houston Chronicle: (http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/headline/biz/5789933.html)

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