Another Free Market Failure Accusation About Texas Electricity Deregulation

Clean Coal Power Mike Norman with the Fort Worth Star Telegram hits on the topic of if Texas deregulation is really working. I assume he places blame on deregulation as the reason for the Texas power supply failure because the title of his article states, “The Texas free market for electricity just isn’t cutting it“. Maybe he is just meaning that as good as deregulation is it can’t stop the EPA and other non-governmental organizations from halting all oil based energy production thereby raising consumer costs. Deregulation being a failure is a popular argument because any time prices go up or supply capacity is reached we hear about it from the political side that benefits the most from this view.

Is deregulation to blame for every time something bad happens in the deregulated Texas electricity market? No you can’t always blame it on deregulation but it is a piece of the puzzle so yes it is to blame sometimes. The main problem with deregulation isn’t inefficiencies building electric grid infrastructure and power production as this gets approved by the state and then shutdown by the EPA and federal government, not deregulation. Texas has broken up the generation companies and such away to allow new investors to come in and build power facilities but not many have filled this hole left open for increased competition. I think new investors have not come in because you are talking about investing in and building highly federally regulated things like coal, natural gas, and nuclear power facilities.  What new investors want to do what TXU just got shutdown by the EPA for trying to do? I see problems with how some retail providers try and use tricks to market their electric rates but regarding power supply being built out the bottleneck seems to be in government regulation still being in the mix too much.

Even if the market was regulated again under one monopoly per electric utility area you would just as easily be able to blame brownouts and blackouts on the monopoly regulated electric utilities just like deregulation gets blamed for things now. I don’t think Mike is trying to place all the blame on deregulation but he is pointing out that you will see an electric bill increase regardless of the provider you choose because of some recent failures in the Texas deregulated market. You see you very likely will find more non-negotiable ERCOT related fees on your electric bill eventually because of lack of electric supply available to meet demand but who is really to blame for this?

Mike explains that a free market should work in theory because investors are encouraged to place their money where the highest return will be received and in so doing offer just enough electricity to cover the demand as well as spikes in demand. In a perfect system the investor is rewarded a maximum profit for producing just the right amount of power with very little waste left over.

The problem Mike sees with the current deregulated market in Texas is that power plants break down or have to be shutdown to fix or maintain it resulting in loss of supply. If Murphy’s Law is in effect and a power demand spike occurs around the same time as a maintenance shutdown all of a sudden there is not enough power to go around for everyone.

These imperfections are problems that political powers bring up in order to fault the great electricity deregulation experiment of 2002. Will this blame game reverse deregulation in Texas? I really doubt that deregulation can be reversed anytime soon. There is huge public support for energy choice in Texas. Many people can show you on their electric bills how they have saved money because of deregulation simply from using our Electricity Bid website.

Is Deregulation to Blame for Lack of Sufficient Power Supply in Texas?

The problem we are faced with in regards to electric power supply in Texas for 2012 is unreliable power supply due to not enough power plants in operation. Is deregulation responsible for this lack of power?

No! In fact TXU was approved for and planning to build 11 new coal fired power plants that utilized clean burning technology and significantly reduced pollution from these plants compared to the old mothballed coal plants from the past. The prior mayor of Houston and Democratic nominee for governor of Texas, Bill White complained in 2010 that these plants were unnecessary but now they seem all too necessary. ERCOT predicts very tight power supplies this summer and this has politicians frantic but I’m sitting here wondering why we didn’t just get started on those 11 coal plants in 2010?

I think what Pat said has a lot to do with our problems…..Pat Ennis with Priority Power Management said, “”I’m not the smartest guy around, but I’d be willing to bet that… we’re not going to have any coal plants built here in Texas for a long time — between the EPA and the environmentalists, coal is kind of a no-no.”

The state of Texas has been contending with attacks from the Environmental Defense Fun and the EPA in regards to an argument that is mainly about the states CO2 emission levels. Instead of focusing their argument primarily on pollution like mercury levels and other scientifically verifiable pollutants they were able to stop 11 new coal fired power plants from being built by TXU because of a global warming argument.

Many scientists and climate scientists non-affiliated or backed by the United Nations IPCC organization disagree that global warming has a negative environmental impact or that man has anything to do with it. Over the last decade their has been a decline in average global temperatures and so to even argue CO2 levels to prevent Texas from expanding their power capacity only serves to hurt these environmental activists causes.

What Can Texans Do to Increase Power Supply?

Does anyone remember back a few years ago when TXU proposed building multiple state of the art clean burning coal power plants? These power plants would have significantly updated the power infrastructure in Texas but the plan was shutdown because of environmental nut jobs. Even though the power plants would have been state of the art cheap coal power with significant reductions in pollution compared to current coal power plants in operation the plan did not go through. The state of Texas must fight the EPA and federal government politically where it hurts and take back our state and its ability to provide power to our citizens.

Even with an unsatisfactory amount of power generation plants built in Texas we have seen a steady increase in large commercial and industrial facilities building on-site power grid infrastructure that are little mini power generators for their companies. These miniature power generators also known as distributed generation systems account for a large portion of the overall electricity consumption in Texas. During peak demand periods in the day these generators can turn on resulting in no need for the state to start rolling blackouts in residential neighborhoods.

The Texas demand curtailment program has been a huge success. Companies are paid to enroll in a program that they do not even have to participate in when and if they are asked to turn off their power for maybe only 20 – 30 minutes in the span of 1 month. The program is enrolled to it’s limits each time Texas opens it back up. What does this mean? There are likely more than enough large commercial and industrial facilities that would jump at the chance to shutdown production for a short interval in exchange for being paid by the state of Texas to do so. Consider that many large companies like this shutdown once a month anyway to test their back up generators so why not get paid to do this?

Solar generation at this time is not a good option for solving the states problems but has limited uses.  As we have seen, large federally backed companies like Solyndra have not even been able to stay a float because of the expense it costs to produce cheap affordable power using solar. Hey I am a fan of solar but like most people I can’t afford to build a solar off the grid system on my home or business. If I can’t afford the system like most of us why would you think the federal government can? We are at record breaking tax deficits in the beginning stages of an economic collapse and those tax dollars are to be used for things that are considered affordable and have at least a 10 year return on investment. Wind power is a partial option but is only viable to use in combination with natural gas power generation as it can share in the control systems and connections to the grid.

The smart meters, and energy efficiency programs utilities across the state offer continue to assist in teaching home owners how to make their homes more efficient and lower their monthly energy bill. These programs should continue to be encouraged and promoted through local electric utilities that control the power infrastructure.

Electricity Company Rate Plans

Electric Company Rate PlansWhen picking a rate plan for a residential home or apartment you need to understand how energy providers choose to market.

Every electric provider will have a few good deals on certain plans. It may be a 3 month rate or a 15 month rate but what you will see is a slightly cheaper price for that term than a typical contract term.

Compare Electricity Company Rates

It will not always be the 3 month and 15 month fixed rate plan that offers the best electricity price but this serves as an example so I can explain what is going on here.

Many times a standard 12 month fixed rate will offer the best deal but a provider can steer you to a different rate plan by making look better.

Even if certain things about an electricity company rate plan are bad for the customer an electricity provider will market it in such a way that you may see the bad aspects as positive.

These energy suppliers are simply featuring the bad parts of their plan and making you pay more for it. Don’t fall for these tricks as you end up losing in the end.

Below are some points to consider when choosing an electricity company and one of their rate plans.

  • Choose a standard electricity rate plan such as 6 months, 12 months, 24, or 36 months.
  • Don’t always go with the cheapest plan especially if it is a short term 1 – 3 month deal. That price will go up.
  • Lock in to a fixed rate and skip going with the cheaper variable price. Variable rates are always subject to change.
  • If a company leaves off TDSP charges, surcharges, and other hidden fees in their rate don’t trust that they have your best interests in mind. Go with a different provider.
  • Stay away from electricity rate plans that say they are fixed but also have a fuel surcharge that can adjust with the commodities market. This is a trick and it simply means your electricity company rate is not truly locked in as fixed.

Haltom City, Texas Electricity Service

One of the best ways to save money on your monthly Haltom City, Texas electric bill is to make the most out of the energy you use.  Reducing energy consumption is a wonderful and responsible thing to do and when combined with energy efficiency it can make for a much lower electric bill.  Try preparing several meals at a time when you are using your oven.  You are already paying for the energy of heating the oven, so pack it full to get the most out of the heat.  You can freeze the extras for quick and convenient meals on those days when your life is just too hectic to worry about meal preparation.

Another fantastic way to save on your Haltom City, Texas electricity bill is to find a lower cost electricity service provider to establish service with.  Use the ElectricityBid online comparison tool to compare rates from all Haltom City, Texas electricity service providers and choose the one that offers the best deal.  Simply enter your zip code and service type to get started.  You can even order your new service right online through ElectricityBid.

We do understand that from time to time you may have questions that simply cannot be answered online.  If this is the case, please feel free to call us toll free at 1-800-971-4020 to speak with one of our energy consultants.  We will be happy to help you better understand the Haltom City, Texas electricity market and help you decide which electric company is right for you.

Tips for Selecting a Texas Energy Provider

Independence Day Promo Electric Rate From Bounce EnergyEvery May, our contract with our Texas energy provider comes up for renewal, and we have the power to choose whether to stay with our current provider or switch. In looking for a new provider and/or plan we not only want a good rate, but we first have to decide if we want a contract and what kind, and if we want to use green energy, all the while paying close attention to possible promotions and rewards programs. Here is the process we usually go through.

In order to choose a provider, it is best to start with a plan. The two most common plans are variable rate and fixed rate. With a fixed rate plan you’ll pay the same rate for electricity throughout the term of your contract (which is typically 2 years). The price can change only to reproduce actual price changes that are allowed by Public Utility Commission rules due to changes in law or regulatory charges. This plan is great for people who have a household budget since the rate stays the same, which protects you from rising energy prices; however, if market prices fall you have to wait until your contract is over to switch to a lower rate. If you think you might want to discontinue service after a short period of time, look for a company that does not have contracts or offers short term contracts. Companies that have contract periods often have a minimum term and if you cancel your service before the contract period ends, you might have to pay a penalty.

Variable rate, or often referred to as “month-to-month”, plans have no minimum contract period and are based on current energy market conditions. With this kind of plan, the rate you pay can fluctuate depending on the changes in the electricity market. Which means you can benefit from lowering energy rates and could help you to save on your energy bill. However, just as this type of plan allows you to save money when market prices fall, it could also have a negative affect if market prices rise because so would your electricity rate. For some people, dealing with constant changing electricity rates can be stressful so a fixed rate works best for them. On the other hand, there are others who like being able to always get the best rate and don’t mind searching for it, making a variable rate plan their best option.

Next is to choose between a non-renewable (standard) and a renewable (green) plan. You can check a Texas energy provider’s Electricity Facts Label (EFL) to see if their plan produces electricity from renewable resources such as solar, hydroelectric, landfill gas, biomass, geothermal, or wind. EFLs allow you to easily compare what each company has to offer to find the best fit for your energy consumption and budget. Each label contains the following information:

  • Electricity Rate: This is made up of the electric company’s average price per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for 500 kWh, 1000 kWh and 1500 kWh, as well as a possible monthly customer service charge and seasonal pricing. Rates can differ depending on the number of kilowatt-hours so it’s important to look at your past usage. With some companies the more kilowatt-hours you use, the lower the rate will be.
  • Contract Terms: Some companies have minimum terms and will charge you an early cancellation fee, while others may not require a contract.
  • Power Generation Sources: The electricity provider should list from what resources the electricity is produced (coal, natural gas, renewable energy, etc.) The percentages will be graphed to compare them to the average usage for electricity generation statewide.
  • Emissions: In this section companies provide details on the types and percentage of emissions they create per kWh of electricity generated. The energy provider’s percentages will be graphed to show if the emissions are better or worse than the Texas average. This might be an important section for you if you’re interested in decreasing your carbon footprint.

Once you’ve decided which plan works for you, then the next step is to compare Texas electricity companies. You can do this by going to ElectricityBid.com where you can compare prices and ratings. Just enter your zip code and then pick the kind of plan you want. You will be able to see different Texas energy providers and their company rating, different plans offered, cancellation fee, if electricity is produced from renewable or non-renewable resources and the terms and rate for each plan. These websites will also show you promotions and incentives offered by each company and if they have a rewards program.

Lastly, review and compare all the possible incentives and rewards programs offered. Some companies offer rewards programs to their customers such as cash back and gifts. For example, Bounce Energy is currently rewarding its customers for paying their bills on-time. Customers who pay their bill on-time for 6 consecutive months receive their choice of 2 movie tickets or a free companion airfare ticket and also gain access to Bounce Energy’s VIP Customer Service line. The longer you pay on time, the more you get in return. Power providers might also offer incentives or promotions for signing up with a new plan such as gift cards, airline miles, charitable donations, or better rates if you sign up online. For example, Bounce Energy’s Express Move plan. This short term fixed rate plan makes moving much easier by not only turning on your electricity, but Bounce Energy will submit your USPS Change of Address form, add your name to the Do Not Mail and Do Not Call lists, give you free identity protection service and give you either a $25 Walmart or Home Depot gift card. Bounce Energy’s Terrific 12 plan gives the customer their choice of $25 gift cards to Target, Wal-Mart, GAP Inc., Shell, or a $25 bill credit.

As you’ve probably seen, there are many Texas energy providers and plans to choose from but by doing some research you will be able to find one that is right for your electricity needs and budget.

Online Resources
http://powertochoose.org
http://www.electricitytexas.com

In Texas You Have the Right to Choose an Electricity Company

If you are relocating from out of state or are moving to a different Texas city from places like Austin, El Paso, Garland, Plano, El Paso and a few other areas you may be happy to know that you may now choose your electric company. Texas is the most competive electricity market in the world and because of this it has helped in lowering electricity rates for residential and commercial electricity service customers.

To begin shopping for residential electricity rates and comparing electric companies just use our comparison chart at the top left of this page. You will need to enter in your zip code and a list of electricity rates and providers will appear. Pick the cheapest provider based on either a fixed or variable term.

Make note that a variable price may be lower but it is subject to go up in price after the first month. This is because you are not locking in your electricity price when choosing a variable rate.

For most people a fixed electric rate makes more sense because you will have a predictable electricity rate and you will know what the price will be each and every month.

The choice in Texas is called the Power to Choose because you have the ability compare over 20 different competitive electricity providers and find the cheapest rate.

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

Get in touch with us!