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

Green Electricity in Texas

For those who have been considering making the jump over to renewable Texas electricity even if it costs a little bit more there are a few things to know first before you get started. Renewable Energy in Texas is not piped directly from the power generating facility to your home when you sign up on a renewable electricity plan. There are a few things that happen that are related to virtual paper transaction and out of state renewable energy sources when you purchase this energy. Most of the clean renewable energy you purchase may be land fill gas and wood garbage. Through renewable energy credits that allow an energy provider to virtually buy credit for wind and solar energy they can sell you a renewable energy plan that has little to do with how you may perceive.

ESS Solar – Professional Texas Solar Installers

Did anyone see those T Boone Pickens commercials where he was trying to rally people behind a plan that would get the government to help him send his wind turbine energy from West Texas to Dallas and Houston areas. This would be a plan that most people think is already happening when they purchase renewable green energy. The truth is wind and solar energy is not being piped into the ERCOT electric grid and reaching Dallas and Houston homes. Your energy is being produced by natural gas and coal fired power plants. Through REC’s and virtual paper transaction you are signing up on a renewable electricity plan but this is not exactly the ideal situation most people want to see when it comes to cleaning up our state.

Are we saying that Green electricity in Texas is a bad idea? No we are not saying that you should not sign up on a green electricity rate plan. We are just explaining that the renewable energy you are purchasing is not how it may seem to be. That wind and solar generated power was likely not created in the state of Texas and if it was it was not by a power plant near you. The fact is that Renewable Energy Credits also known as REC’s do help in saving the environment but much more needs to be done so that we can lower the cost of wind and solar by having this power directly delivered onto our ERCOT electric grid from the power source. Then we can say that, yes, some green renewable energy is being sent from wind turbines and solar powered power plants and onto the electric grid that feeds the electricity that powers your home.

Champion Energy

Champion Energy is a large wholesale energy provider and operates primarily in the commercial sales arena. There are several smaller Retail Electric Providers who buy their energy from Champion and resell it under an alternate name. Champion Energy consistently provides competitive pricing to commercial businesses in Texas although with any electric company certain risk management policy changes can make their prices more or less competitive throughout the year.

For large commercial accounts there is usually the option to have a blend of multiple energy products to bring down the overall cost of the energy you will be paying for throughout the year. Champion Energy can assist in procuring your energy using both MCPE index pricing along with a fixed price product at the right percentage to benefit you the most based on market conditions. Eisenbach Consulting can assist in managing the risk and converting over part of a blended product when opportunities arise in the market to lock in more of the rate to a fixed energy product.

You can learn more about Texas Electric Companies and Choices by speaking to an energy consultant at Eisenbach Consulting.

 

Apartment Electricity in Texas

Is Your Credit Bad? Do You Need a No Deposit Electric Rate Plan?

For those who have tried signing up with a couple electric providers in Texas only to discover that they want you to pay an outrageous deposit for electric service at your apartment, you now have a better choice. Bounce Energy is a reputable electric provider in Texas offering a “Low Deposit Plan” that allows you to sign up for electric service with no deposit required based on credit. If you want a flat out “NO DEPOSIT” electric rate please use our compare tool at the top right of this page.

The electricity rates in our chart are some of the cheapest available. Considering you will be turning on your lights for little or no deposit down you can be even more confident about your electricity provider choice since you will have a competitive electricity rate as well. If you are in a bind these prepaid plans get you electric service quick without the need to come up with a fortune to pay a large deposit amount.

 

Moving Into A New Apartment

When moving into a new apartment you will likely be given a paper with the main utilities in your area. For Houston this may be Reliant Energy and for Dallas this could be TXU Energy. The problem arises sometimes when you call them thinking they are the only energy provider in that area and they ask for a $300 – $500 deposit. Your head starts to spin and fumes begin to come out of your ears. This is the time when someone needs to tell you to stop and pay attention because you don’t have to call TXU or Reliant to setup electricity at your apartment. There are over 40 retail electric providers in Texas and over 200 different electric rate plans to choose from.


What Electric Company Should I Call Then

If you want to avoid the deposit that makes since but you also want a low rate and good terms and conditions with the contract. If possible you want to have any type of customer service charge waived because this could be as much as $15 extra a month would eat up any type of energy savings you thought you were achieving. So get the customer service charge to zero and then look at the energy rate. The electric rate for a residence in September 2007 is about 11 cents kwh. That is about as low as it has gotten this month. It actually came down to 10.6 cents kwh for a couple days. As you can see electric rates in Texas are volatile but you can lock in on a fixed rate anywhere from 3 months all the way to 36 months with most energy providers. The 12 month rate is the recommended term to get on as it is low and will insure you a decent electricity rate as energy in Texas is expected to go higher for the long term.

The best way to find the right company is to start by using the tool in green at the top of this page.



Transmission and Distribution Service Provider Charges

Transmission and Distribution Service Provider Charges (TDSP)

Texas electricity consumers often go out and receive quotes from several retail electric providers and notice that there is an additional charge that is not quoted with the energy rate. The TDSP charges or what are sometimes known as pass thru charges are left off of the rate. This can appear a little shady as if the energy supplier is purposefully trying to make their electric rate look better then it actually is.

TDSP charges are not your electric rate?

What is actually going on when the electricity provider leaves the TDSP charges from the energy quote? They are not trying to trick the customer. Texas deregulated the energy market in Texas back in 2002 and when they did this they unbundled the energy rate. The energy provider prior to 2002 was also the pole and wires company. That means the TDSP charges and energy rate were owned and charged by one company prior to 2002. When deregulation occurred the Texas government with the oversight of the Public Utility Commission split up the former monopolies such as TXU Energy, First Choice Power, Reliant and others and created seperate companies. Now you have over 40 Retail Electric Providers to choose from and only a few pole and wires companies. In fact for your region you only have one choice for who you pay your TDSP charges to. In the Dallas area you would pay TXU now known as Oncor http://www.oncorgroup.com. This TDSP charge will show up on your energy bill the same regardless of which Retail Electric Provider you choose. This TDSP charge is simply past on to you from Oncor directly to your energy bill. The TDSP charge can be anywhere from 1 – 8 cents a kilowatt hour and sometimes more. In order to find out exactly how much you pay the pole and wires company you would need to call them and ask for your historical usage. This data will show you exactly how much you pay in TDSP charges for each month along with the corresponding kwh usage for the month.

Electric Providers are showing several different estimates for my TDSP charges

The reason electric providers are giving you an energy quote with an estimate that is not the same as another providers estimate is because they can only guess as to what exactly you may pay for next year. The TDSP charges are figured based on a Public Utility Commission of Texas Rule that is complex and changing. The TDSP charge also changes based on the amount of usage used. Because of these variables you may see several different Transmission and Distribution estimates. The important thing to remember is that these are not quotes but only a helpful estimate to consider so you will know what the total charges would look like. In the end you will pay the same TDSP charges regardless of which electricity provider you choose. Note: It is still not illegal for Texas electricity providers to secretly mark up the TDSP charges with their profit margin and hide this fact in the fine details of the contract. Electricity Bid does not work with any Texas electric companies that do this practice although they are still out there.

For more information about these charges please speak to a Texas energy consultant to learn more. You can speak with a consultant from Electricity Bid by calling 1-800-971-4020

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

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