Cirro Energy, Customer Confusion Over Variable Electric Rate

Power To Choose had Cirro Energy listed on their website with a Residential Electricity Rate for 12 months at 12.3 cents\kwh back in June of 2007. This tied with Spark Energy who also had a 12.3 cents per kwh energy rate. After looking closer I noticed that you can only qualify for the 12.3 cents\kwh rate with Cirro if you are using more then 500 kwh a month in electricity. Since then Cirro Energy was advertising only a variable 12 month rate on Power to Choose but would show it as a 12 month term. Mind you I had multiple people call me to complain about Cirro because they thought they had signed up for a 12 month fixed rate not noticing they were being locked into a rate that can change at will by Cirro Energy for any reason the energy company decides. I received enough of these calls to realize that most people who signed up with Cirro seemed to be under the impression that their electric rate was locked in for 12 months.

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Another bad aspect to the Cirro Energy residential electricity rate was the early termination penalty. Back in June of 2007 they would charge an electric customer 1 months average electricity bill if you were to cancel. This could be $200 – $500 for some residential customers who use a lot of energy. On a more positive note an apartment customer might only have to pay $50 – $75 to cancel since they do not use as much energy. Since June of 2007 Cirro’s early termination penalty is more in line with other electric providers. They now offer both a fixed rate and a variable electric rate.

In comparison to Cirro Energy, Startex Power has a competitive electric rate worth looking at. They have standard fixed rate terms without monthly service charges. Another electric rate plan that is good for those looking for a guaranteed no deposit plan is with Bounce Energy.  The electric rate is not dependent upon the amount of electricity used  unless you are using under 500 kWh a month. Most people do not use under that but if you do there is a $4.95 monthly fee.

Cirro Energy has announced as of August 2008 that they are being bought out by a large electric company named Dominion Retail with over 1.7 million residential and commercial electric service customers throughout the USA. My guess is that the churn rate of electric service customers has been increasing and electric companies like Cirro are looking to sell out. After reaching critical mass it actually does make sense to sell out. I wonder if this sell out is foreshadowing what is to come in the Texas retail electricity market?

Remember telecom long distance deregulation? AT&T, MCI, and Sprint. The market became pretty thin and volume ended up making or breaking these companies. Once the companies got too big and their customers started jumping ship to the next best provider they couldn’t justify the size of their companies infrastructure any longer. These companies began losing money and selling off and downsizing.

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