Texas Electric: What Is a Provider of Last Resort & Why You Want to Avoid Them

Anything with the phrase “last resort” in it is probably something you want to avoid — unless you’re talking about scoping out Caribbean vacation spots (as in, that last resort we toured was gorgeous). When it comes to energy, you don’t want to be in the “last resort” club.

As it relates to Texas electricity, following is what a Provider of Last Resort (POLR) is, and why you want to avoid being a part of their roster.

What is a Provider of Last Resort?

Actually, from a consumer standpoint, a POLR is a good thing. They are Texas energy companies that act as a back-up in case an existing service provider goes out of business.

Texas electricity consumers have a deregulated energy market, which has produced the need for POLRs. Why? Because with deregulation came a lot of competition. And, some of these new companies had neither the market savvy nor the secure financial backing it takes to be in business for the long haul.

Many of them came on the scene offering Texas electricity consumers low rates, but they couldn’t deliver when certain market forces shifted. So, they went out of business – leaving thousands of customers potentially stranded.

Enter POLRs. The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) designated certified retail electric providers (REPs) to act as POLRs for each customer class in each electric utility service area open to competition.

While this is a comfort, it can be a nightmare in that there is no guarantee that the rate you paid with your old Texas electricity company is the one you’ll get with your new one. And, if you’re already paying the high cost of a prepaid electric service plan, your costs could escalate even more.

Why It Pays to Choose a Traditional Texas Electricity Company

This is why it pays to sign on with a traditional Texas energy supplier – even if it means saving up to pay a deposit. Although, many have low-deposit and no-deposit electric service plans you may qualify for. All it takes is a phone call to find out.

To Compare Texas Electricity Rates please click here

Texas Electric: What to Do If You’ve Been a Victim of Electric Cramming

Many Texas electricity consumers are paying more for electricity than they need to. And the kicker is, they don’t even know it. How is this possible? In short, electric cramming. Following is what it is and what to do about it if it’s happened to you.

 

What Is Electric Cramming?

 

Electric cramming is when an unauthorized energy supplier charges you for services that they aren’t even providing. Most customers don’t realize that this is happening to them, so it can go on for months – or even years – if you are not diligent about checking the charges on your Texas electric bill.

If You’ve Been Crammed, Following Is What You Need to Do

1. Contact Your Texas Electricity Supplier Immediately: Tell them about the charges and that you are a victim of electric cramming.

Note: You should pay the rest of your bill on time (just don’t pay the cramming charges). If you don’t pay the legitimate portion of your bill, you risk having your electric service terminated.

2. Ask for Removal of Charges: Your electric company will usually comply with this request immediately.

Tip: If you go back through old bills and find that you’ve unwittingly paid cramming charges, ask for a refund.

3. File a Complaint: If you can’t come to a resolution with your Texas electricity company, you can file a complaint with the Public Utility Commission (PUC) by calling 888-782-8477.

When you start examining your Texas electric bill for unauthorized charges, you may notice that what you pay per kilowatt hour (kWh) is higher than the norm. If this is so, you may be using a prepaid electric service plan where costs can be 25, 30 or 40% higher than those who have regular plans and enjoy some of the lowest rates around.

Even if you have bad credit or what’s considered a low income, conventional Texas electricity companies have low-deposit and no-deposit electric plans that can help you save – a lot – on your monthly energy bill. All you have to do is contact your Texas electricity company to find out about which options they have that can help you.

Texas Electric Market: Competition Leads to Better Customer Service for Consumers

Since Texas deregulated its electricity market in 2002, many new companies are competing for the same pool of customers. This has been a win-win for Texas electric consumers because it has put the customer front and center via improved customer service.  

Consumers can now shop around for an electricity company. And while rate remains a high determining factor as to which energy supplier a customer chooses, customer service is on the list as well.

What Better Customer Service Means for Texas Electric Consumers

Better customer service has led to several innovations by the energy market that benefit consumers. Following are a few.

Product Innovation: It’s practically impossible to talk about energy today without mentioning the phrase “green energy.” Many consumers are concerned about the environment and want green energy options. Hence, electric companies have started to offer this to consumers.

To find out if an electricity company offers green energy options, check its Electricity Facts Label. This document tells you how an energy provider generates its electricity.

Money-Saving Plans: Many traditional Texas electric suppliers offer numerous plans that save consumers money.

One of the most popular is the LITE-Up Texas program. It offers discounts on energy bills during the high-energy consumption months of May through September.

Conventional energy suppliers also offer no-deposit electric service plans. When you compare no-deposit plans to prepaid electric service plans, for example, the savings are usually phenomenal. This is because prepaid electric plans charge so much more.

Energy Rebates: If you make improvements to your home by purchasing buy Energy Star-rated appliances, you can get rebates on those purchases – anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. This is all made possible via the Texas Trade-Up Appliance Rebate Program.

With innovations like these, Texas electric customers are truly the winners since the market was deregulated.

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.

Killeen Texas Electricity Companies

Compare Residential Electricity Rates in Killeen Texas by Using the Comparison Chart Below

For those living in or around Killeen Texas and are looking for an affordable electricity company we recommend checking out our electricity comparison chart. If you need a commercial electricity company in Killeen then please click on our contact link to feel out a short rate quote form. A commercial energy consultant for the Killeen Texas area can call or email you back with rate quotes from multiple Killeen Texas electricity providers.

Our Killeen TX residential electricity company comparison chart can be found simply by clicking on the comparison link in the menu bar above. We have all electricity rates, fees and charges disclosed so you know exactly what the electricity rate, monthly service fees, and TDSP charges you will be billed for by your electric provider will be.

If you would like to speak with a Killeen Texas energy consultant you may call us at 1-800-971-4020. One of our energy consultants can go over different questions and issues related to electricity prices. One of the most common confusions about electric rates has to do with transmission and distribution service provider charges. Commercial electric rates do not initially have the TDSP charges bundled into the electric rate. This unbundled rate is not to be deceptive as all commercial electric providers do not initially bundle the rate until they know your estimated or historical electricity usage.

Once the Killeen Texas electricity provider has your estimated usage they can quote you a total bundled rate. Most commercial electricity providers do not mark up the TDSP charges although it is not considered against PUCT regulations to mark them up so it is important to watch out for this practice.

Residential electricity rates are different in that most Killeen TX electricity providers will “fix” the TDSP charges and bundle them to the “energy only” charge giving you a total bundled rate. Due to a new PUCT and ERCOT rule all providers in deregulated Texas areas must pass through an additional smart meter or advanced meter fee. This fee is about $3 – $4 more per month on all Texas energy consumer bills regardless if their TDSP company has installed the new smart meter device yet. There may also be a monthly service fee some Killeen TX electric companies will charge that is generally about $4.95 – $9.95 that is disclosed next to the rate. Some Texas electricity providers make the monthly service fee hiddeen from view so be sure to check the “facts label” if you are unsure if there is one. Our residential electricity rates include all fees and charges and any monthly service fees are clearly listed next to the rate.

Some electric companies in Killeen will never charge a monthly service fee unless the energy customer uses under 500 kWh a month in electric usage. Since not very many customers use less than 500 kWh a month it isn’t a concern for many however if you have a small apartment and are single you might want to find a provider in Killeen that does not have a monthly service fee regardless of the amount of electricity usage used.

Electricity Bid helps you find an electric rate and provider to save you money and keep life simple.

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