Houston Electricity Rates Prices and Plans – September 2009

We have compiled a list of some of the cheaper electricity rates, prices and plans from some reputable electricity companies in the Houston area.  The electricity companies in the list below have a track record of offering electricity service in the Houston area for a few years now and with the new PUCT rules in place the bundled electricity rates shown in the chart include all fees and charges including TDSP related charges, advanced meter fees, etc. We have listed monthly base charges to the right of each rate so you can see which electric company charges a base charge and which ones do not. Many times the cheaper electric rate with a base charge will save you more money than going with a higher electricity rate with no monthly base charge.

The confusing issue some electricity service customers still face is with a variable electricity rate. You can be quoted an initial rate in the advertisement when choosing a variable rate but some providers can change that electricity price even before receiving your first months electric bill. To our knowledge none of the Houston electricity companies in the chart below adjust their initial quoted variable rate until after you have been with them for atleast a month. If you choose a fixed Houston electricity rate the rate will not change the entire term of the fixed electricity agreement. We strongly recommend choosing a fixed electricity rate in the Houston Texas area to avoid any surprises.

Most electricity companies in Houston will also notify you before your fixed electricity agreement is up so you can renew before being put on a variable electricity rate. By having advanced notification that your electricity contract is about to expire you can have assurance that you will never have to deal with a fluctuating variable electricity price. Most Houston home owners and renters choose a fixed electricity rate because they have knowledge of exactly what the rate will be. By simply multiplying the rate times the kWh usage used during the month you can confirm you are being charged correctly.

Right now a 1 year fixed Houston residential electricity rate for September 2009 is the most popular fixed electricity rate agreement. We believe that a 3 year fixed rate actually makes sense right now considering Houston electric prices are close to all time lows. We think some electricity service customers in Houston could even consider signing up for something even longer term like the Just Energy 5 year residential electricity agreement. Most people are uncomfortable committing to an electricity price for that long but because electricity rates are this low right now it really isn’t that bad of a choice.

If you are like me 2 or 3 years is about the max amount of time you will want to commit to for a fixed Houston electricity rate. If you pick a longer term rate with a Houston electricity company you are basically buying insurance betting that electricity prices will be going up in the next few years. This keeps you in a low electricity price for several years while prices will likely head back up considering they are near as close to zero as they will probably go. If you choose a 1 month fixed electricity rate you have price insurance only for the first month of the rate, after that the rate can change with fuel prices. If you choose a variable rate plan with no initial 1 month term the rate could do just about anything. Even if you see an electricity price in a quoted advertisement the rate can legally adjust even before your first months electricity usage.

We recommend if you are considering a variable electricity rate in Houston that you atleast choose a 1 to 3 month fixed rate. After the initial term the rate follows a fuel commodity or index price along with the market. There are several choices when picking a fixed Houston electric rate and right now you can pick from 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 2, and 3 year terms. Occasionally there will be other alternative fixed terms like a 9, 15, or 18 month fixed electricity rate. You can compare electricity rates for September 2009 using the historical snapshot below. These rates are for historical reference for the month of September 2009 so you can track what electricity companies in Houston were charging during this time. TXU Energy and Reliant Energy in Houston are both falling behind on price when compared with some of the cheapest electric companies in Houston. Although TXU and Reliant remain the two biggest Houston electricity providers they still do not offer low prices compared to some of the other Houston electric providers.

September 2009 Houston Texas Electricity Rates

Arlington Texas Electricity Rates

In Arlington Texas there are several discount electricity rates usually being offered as fixed rate terms by most electricity companies. A few Arlington electricity companies only offer variable electricity prices that fluctuate with the commodity markets. These variable electric rates change in price based on how the fuel prices that generates electricity in Texas changes on the futures markets. A variable electricity rate is generally considered a more risky product than a fixed electricity rate. By choosing a variable price you avoid a long term commitment with an electric company and there is usually no early termination penalty with the Texas electricity company. A fixed electricity rate term plan gives you peace of mind that the rate will not change. The below Arlington Texas electricity companies offer easy to understand fixed rate plans with no hidden fees or charges.

Many times a variable electricity price will be much cheaper than a fixed rate for the first month because it is an introductory offer or fuel prices happen to be lower on the prompt month. This unhedged variable price does not require a lot of capital investment in comparison to a fixed rate for the Arlington Texas electricity company. There is not a lot of risk for the provider to sell a variable electric rate because the customer is taking on all the risk.

Generally Arlington TX electricity companies that focus on selling variable electricity rates have a higher customer complaint record because customers become agitated when their introductory variable rate goes up beyond what they expected. Even when an Arlington Texas electricity company provides disclosure after disclosure explaining that the rate is subject to change with fuel prices customers will still complain to the PUCT when their rate goes up regardless to the fact that they agreed to this rate plan.

Sometimes the electricity provider really is to blame when a customers variable electricity rates go up. A few Arlington electricity companies either in the past or even still now advertise rates that appear to be fixed but have the ability to go up in price. Some of the tactics an Arlington Texas electricity provider will take to show one rate and charge you a different rate is to hide some of the TDSP charges within the details of the contract. A provider should disclose all fees and charges in the facts label but some of these providers hide the fees in a word problem within the text of the contract. Most energy consumers have no way of figuring out what the actual rate is in this case without questioning the electricity provider and the PUCT to get down to the bottom of it.

When an electricity provider knowingly uses customer electricity price confusion to deceive their customers into an electric rate they are committing fraud. We have heard directly from people within some of these companies that have confirmed that some Arlington electricity companies use customer confusion as a part of their core business model. This has been confirmed by a disgruntled employee at one provider and a satisfied employee at another provider that works within the actual pricing area of the electricity providers business. The mindset of the Texas energy consumer according to these electricity companies is that they are quick to forget. A year may go by and many of these customers will stay and some will go but the electric provider continues to sign up unsuspecting customers since there is plenty of customers to go around.

There is nothing wrong with a variable electricity rate but it is important that a provider makes it clear to the consumer that a changing price is what they are signing up for. A fixed electricity rate should be a true fixed rate and not subject to additional hidden fees and fuel surcharges that can cause the electricity price to change. A variable electricity rate can be the perfect type of rate plan to get on as I personally am on a variable electricity rate but the consumer should know that is what they are on. If the energy consumer has been made aware of the risks involved with being on a variable electricity price than they should not be complaining when their rate goes up in price otherwise they should have signed up on a fixed electricity rate with an Arlington Texas electricity company.

These are some of the issues that Texas energy consumers should know about before just signing up with any Texas electricity provider. The PUCT has a complaint scorecard that gives detailed information on which electricity companies should be avoided and which Texas electricity companies in Arlington have a high customer satisfaction record. As of August 2009 Startex Power in Arlington Texas has received the number 1 rating by JD Power and Associates. Part of Startex Power’s strategy involves offering cheap electricity rates that are fixed and do not contain hidden fees and charges.

August 2009 Dallas Electricity Rate Comparison

Today is August 14 2009 and we have gone out to the power to choose website to check on electricity rates from companies like Champion, Startex, Green Mountain Energy, Spark Energy, TXU, Ambit, Stream, Bounce, Texas Power and Reliant Energy.  We checked on some other Texas electricity providers but these energy companies provide a good overall comparison of rates. We have sorted the electricity rates  in order from cheapest to most expensive using the pricing available on the Power to Choose website.

Startex Power, Champion, and Green Mountain Energy, are some of the more popular electricity companies we recommend and Startex and Champion are currently offering some of the cheapest available electricity plans in the Dallas Texas area. There are no hidden fees or charges with Startex or Champion. If you use below 500 kWh per month than a $4.95 monthly service fee will kick in with Startex Power but other than that you are going to be good with the top two cheapest Dallas electricity plans in the chart.

This chart above is a historical snapshot of what Dallas residential electricity rates looked like for the month and day of August 14 2009. These charts sometimes help in determining the track record of a Texas electricity companies overall consistent performance in delivering a low cost electricity price to Texas energy consumers. To see a current comparison of our recommended electricity companies in Dallas Texas please click on our Dallas electricity comparison link by clicking here.

August 2009 Houston Electricity Rates and Plans – Compared

Picking The Right Houston Electricity Company, Rate and Plan

What to Know Before Signing up With Just Anyone

We have compiled a list of some of the more popular residential Texas electricity companies and rate plans. If there is a known issue with one of the residential electricity companies we list that concern next to the provider. There are some providers that have blatantly obvious tricks we know of that shows one rate on their website but when receiving your first electricity bill the rate is much higher due to the TDSP charges not being clearly apparent. A note should be made that these Texas electricity providers are usually involved in leaving off the TDSP charge on their advertised rate. We are not sure exactly how many energy companies participate in this practice as well as they change their practices depending on how much heat they are receiving from PUCT complaints. You can read Consumer Energy complaints from some of these providers customers who can explain what exactly can occur when switching to a gimmicky energy company better than we can.

August 7 2009 Residential Houston Electricity Company Comparison, Cheapest to Most Expensive

Understanding Your Houston Residential Electricity Rate

Most electric providers in Texas will bundle the TDSP charges into the energy only rate giving you an all-in rate that can be compared against other Texas electricity companies like TXU Energy and Reliant Energy. We have listed both TXU and Reliant in our comparison chart in order to compare their electricity prices with other Texas electric providers. You will notice that the two largest energy providers in Texas have much higher electricity prices than some of the smaller but good electric companies. Right now Champion Energy and Startex Power are two reputable electricity providers in Texas offering very cheap fixed electricity rate offers. All fees and charges are disclosed with these two companies. With Startex if a customer uses less then 500 kWh hours a month there will be a $4.95 monthly service fee although most Texas electricity consumers use more then this so it shouldn’t be an issue for most customers. A monthly service fee is simply an additional charge many electricity providers have in addition to their electricity price. It is important that a provider disclose this fee upfront rather than hide it in the contract details. We have made these fees obvious in our rate chart so you can make a clear apples to apples comparison of electricity prices in Texas.

Historical Houston Electricity Rate Snapshot for August 7 2009

Since this Houston electricity comparison chart is an update for August 7 2009 it only represents a historical snapshot of what Texas electricity providers were charging on this date. An updated and daily refreshed electricity rate chart is also provided below with some of the cheapest Houston electricity companies. We hope this historical list of Houston energy providers in prices above will keep you informed of how prices move over the course of several months. If you have any questions or comments about one of these Houston electricity companies please feel free to leave a comment below. If you are interested in a no deposit Houston electricity choice please visit our no deposit electricity page.

Current Houston Electricity Rates, Companies, and Plans

Customer Confusion Over Price is Some Texas Electricity Companies Business Model

Fixed rate product — A retail electric product with a term of at least three months for which the price (including recurring charges) for each billing period of the contract term is the same throughout the contract term, except that the price may vary from the disclosed amount solely to reflect actual changes in the Transmission and Distribution Utility (TDU) charges, changes to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) or Texas Regional Entity administrative fees charged to loads or changes resulting from federal, state or local laws that impose new or modified fees or costs on a REP that are beyond the REP’s control.

According to TXU it is unclear whether the ERCOT System Administration Fee, TRE Fee, Public Utility Commission assessment, and Gross Receipts Tax Reimbursements are considered recurring charges that must be included in the total average price per kWh on a customer’s Electricity Facts Label and bills, or whether they may merely be identified to customers in the Electricity Facts Label or Terms of Service and then billed as line items on the bill and not included in the total average price/kWh. Currently Retail Electric Providers are treating these fees and assessments differently which is preventing customers from making an apples to apples price comparison.

The PUCT clarifies that any dispute between a customer and a Retail Electric Provider concerning the terms of a contract, any vagueness, obscurity, or ambiguity in the contract will be construed in favor of the electricity service customer.

The Electricity Facts Label for each electric service product shall be printable in no more than a two page format. The Electricity Facts Label, Terms of Service, and YRAC for any products offered for enrollment on a Texas electricity providers website shall be available for viewing or downloading.

According to the PUCT for a fixed rate product, the Electricity Facts Label shall provide the total average price for electric service reflecting all recurring charges, excluding state and local sales taxes, and reimbursement for the state miscellaneous gross receipts tax, to the customer.

I hate to even suggest it if it wasn’t true but some of the Texas electricity companies advertising out there really cannot be doing anything other than making a clever attempt at tricking customers into their rates. Our compare widget will show you the entire rate and make the shopping experience easy and quick.

Why would I say something like this? Just take a look at a handful of some of the electricity companies we wrote about and look at near 300 comments in some cases from disgruntled electricity service customers on some of them. A couple situations had more to do with confusion of what a customer thought a variable electricity rate is which cannot be blamed on some of these providers. Many of these situations involve customers who truly believed when signing up that they were on a fixed electricity rate only to be told in their electricity bill later that additional fluctuating charges have been added on.

  • Amigo Energy – Over 80 Comments (Problems associated with POLR customers not understanding to switch to a plan after moving to POLR)
  • Dynowatt Energy – Over 80 Comments (many of these are customer confusion over variable electricity prices)
  • Freedom Power – Over 40 comments (complaints and confusion by customers of disconnects and extra charges)
  • National Power – Over 330 comments (no longer selling in Texas after an attempt to raise customer fixed rates)
  • Riverway Power – Over 30 comments (no longer selling in Texas after an attempt to raise customer fixed rates)

This is a very confrontational topic and I will do my best to stay away from naming Texas electric company names but a few different scenarios of what I am talking about come to mind. Below I will give a summary of some of the confusing electricity price advertisements I have come across.

    • One electricity provider had an electricity rate on the splash page where they advertise their rates about 3 cents cheaper than the cheapest 12 month fixed rate any Texas electricity company was offering. The rate was being advertised as a fixed rate as well. This was a residential electricity rate and since 90% of all residential electric companies in Texas bundle in all charges minus a monthly fixed base charge we would assume this was a bundled rate. We pulled up the facts label off their site which is supposed to break it down according to PUCT regulations where the rate is bundled together with all charges. The rate showed the same low price in the facts label but had some interesting legal jargon in the fine print that TDSP charges may need to be added in addition. We called this electricity provider because no where on the site could we find a total bundled residential electricity price. The provider after much questioning explained that additional TDSP charges would need to be added to the rate but they could not tell me what these are because they are variable and vary by customer. The lady was right. The TDSP charges are variable and in fact 90% of the TDSP charges are demand related. In other words if you are accustomed to turning on all the machines, lights, AC, and appliances in your house during peak times in the day than your demand charge could be much higher than a typical household. Your variable part of the rate could be 4 cents per kWh or more on top of the advertised fixed rate. Most Texas electricity providers fix the TDSP charges and bundle it into the rate so regardless of what your demand may be you pay the disclosed advertised price you saw and read in their advertisement. How is a Texas electricity provider able to fix the TDSP charges? Well, if you average what most residential customers use in energy it comes out to about 1,300 kWh a month. The demand is also easy to average out. Since residential electricity service providers deal in large volume they can average out the cost of TDSP charges and make them a fixed component of the rate. These electricity companies than bundle the TDSP charges into the advertised rate to give you an exact picture of what your residential electricity rate will look like. Again most electric companies will do this for residential customers and it has become an industry standard norm. Only a handful of energy companies do not use this practice and they seem to keep it a secret on their sites as you usually can only discover that additional TDSP charges will be added when reading the fine print of their contract or asking interrogating questions to the sales rep.
    • Another practice involves having a “fuel surcharge” clause in the fine details of the contract in that little tiny print on page 6 or something. Most customers will never ask or look to discover that their fixed rate they have “locked into” can change when fuel prices go up. The Texas electricity grid relies on natural gas to spin the turbines that create our Texas electric power. Natural gas is about 45% of the generation fuel we use to create electricity in Texas and Dallas and Houston are big recipients of this fuel source. Natural gas prices go up all the time and right now are near a low in the market. This low means that “what goes down must eventually come up” as the old commodities adage goes. We beg to differ that you are really “locking in” to anything considering fuel prices go up and down everyday. A fuel surcharge is one of the biggest jokes to put in a fixed electricity rate contract. If you are buying a variable wholesale price for your residential electricity service and want to take on the risk than a fuel surcharge is great. I personally am on an MCPE type of residential electricity rate that goes up and down based on market conditions. It is fine to sign up on one of these rates if you know that is what you have agreed to. The problem is that some Texas electricity companies literally have a business model that is based on assuming their customers have confusion already about price. These electric providers  know what they can and cannot get away with. By adding something in the details of the contract while leaving the splash page that hooks in customers void of any reference to the additional fuel surcharge they are deceiving their customers. Sometimes a reference might be made in microscopic print after an asterisks at the bottom of the page. One way or another the electricity provider operating in this manner doesn’t do enough to inform the customer about what electricity rate they are really agreeing to.
    • A recent comment by a visitor on our site gave some helpful information about an electricity company that according to him had a business model based on customer confusion over electricity price. We have taken out that Texas electricity providers name since we do not have any way of knowing if this is true but you can read for yourself someone who apparently has a little inside knowledge of some of these games that are played.

Dear A—- Customers-

1st thing 1st…A—- Energy is owned by a company called F—— Energy, a wholesale energy provider. They purchased a large power plant called Basque about a year ago that cost them about 600 million dollars. They are leveraged to the hilt and this cost has been passed on to the consumer through their retail provider A—- Energy controlled by F——.

A—-’s personnel is a patchwork of bufoons and people who don’t know how to deal with customers and are very green when it comes too being an REP. It was once said in a meeting by their pricing person that he wanted to quote, “Take advantage of people who do not know anything about price.” unquote. I notice he made good on his promise to J—– V—, the flamboyant CEO of A—-. I guess this is the reason that they have targeted the hispanic community with this exorbit price. How unfortunate.

Again, they have uneducated people at levels that they should not be at by any stretch of the imagination and they use tactics that are possibly in violation of PUCT rules and regulations. They have over two hundred BBC complaints against them and have had a expose by the Houston Chronicle informing the people of the many complaints. When V— was asked by the Reporter if he knew about the many complaints, V— totally lied to them about his knowledge of the complaints. He knew about all of them and doesn’t give a flying, well you know. I knew they were ignorant about their knowledge, I didn’t know they were that unethical.

So what is my point in writing about the bad Texas electricity companies out there? It is a pretty important topic as having electric providers out there tricking customers and doing illegal things is bad for everybody. It is bad for myself who is in this business trying to do something honest, it’s bad for ethically run electricity companies like the ones in the Texas electricity comparison chart above, and it could easily bring on more government regulation. With a possible government take over of the health care industry, GM, and who knows what other industries do we really want to turn into Canada? These rogue Texas electricity companies do get sued from time to time but they make a lot of money and have increased their profit margins through dishonest business practices. It is important to bring to light the dishonest practices of a handful of energy companies so that Texas electricity customers know that not all providers operate in this manner.

For a clear easy to understand apples to apples comparison of discount electricity rates in Texas please look at the top of this article for a comparison of several reputable electricity providers in Texas. All fees and charges are disclosed, there are no hidden fees or fuel surcharges, and several different fixed electricity rates are available. You can compare from cheapest to most expensive, pick a no deposit plan, green energy plan, Fast move in, or just go with a shorter term option. If you have questions after comparing electricity companies please give us a call at 1-800-971-4020 back to top ^

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