Texas Electric Meter Malfunctions and Incorrect Billing

This article is written for the unlucky electric service customer that gets hit with an inaccurate electric bill because the electricity meter was malfunctioning and the meter reader had to estimate electric usage based on historical averages from the previous year. Sometimes an electric meter could be malfunctioning and show lower usage amounts than what the electric service customer is actually using. Months could go by before the meter reader realizes that the electric meter was showing a smaller amount of usage than what the consumer was using. When this happens the electric company can true up these charges and bill the customer based on a previous years usage amount. This means that you could have been charged $30 a month for several months but then the electric company sees the mistake and sends you a bill for $1000 to recover lost income from the meter malfunction. The dollar amount would be based on what you used historically the previous year and not actual usage. This historical usage estimate rule means that even if you were not staying at the home or business during the time your meter was malfunctioning you will still be charged based on last years historical usage averages.

You would be surprised but many people in this situation claim they were not in the house at the time in order to attempt to not have to pay a higher price when the utility figures out their mistake. I would not be shocked to get some comments below from people claiming this has happened to them and they were not present at the home and therefore should not have to pay based on last year’s usage. The utility will usually work out some type of payment plan so you can pay out the difference over time but you are unlikely to win the argument that you were visiting your sick grandmother during the time your usage was low when it was verified to be a meter malfunction.

Who is Responsible for Meter Malfunctions and Charges?

Ultimately the company responsible for the electric meter malfunctioning is the Electric Utility company also known as the TDSP company or the pole and wires company. In the Houston area the electric utility is Centerpoint Energy. In the Dallas area the pole and wires utility is Oncor Electric Delivery. These companies handle fixing the poles and wires, meters, and they own all the electric infrastructure that delivers the electricity to your home or business. Before you get all out of shape and frustrated with your retail electric provider like, Reliant Energy, TXU, Stream, Ambit, Liberty, Spark, Champion, or any of the 30 retail electric companies servicing Texas you should get your facts straight. The retail electric provider only has a few responsibilities. They buy commodities, hedge energy, and sell you that electric service. Another job the retail electric provider does is to bill you based on usage data they receive from utilities like Oncor or Centerpoint Energy. You see the retail electric provider is not in control of reading the usage data or that the usage is accurate. The utility is the responsible party that all complaints and issues regarding accurate meter reading and usage data should go to.

If your TDSP meter reading company has misread your meter data or the meter has malfunctioned and you feel that something should be done about it we recommend you contact that TDSP company and express your complaint and issue. These companies will send someone on site to investigate the matter. Someone will also follow up to explain how you will be billed or compensated for the inaccurate billing.

To contact Oncor: Oncor Electric Delivery
To contact Centerpoint: Centerpoint Energy

In Some Cases the Retail Electric Provider May Have Advertised a Rate Without the TDSP Charges Included

Sometimes the meter data is being read correctly but you still notice additional charges averaging 3 – 4 cents per kWh on top of the initial advertised retail electric rate you were quoted by a Texas electricity company. When this happens you are probably dealing with only a handful of electric companies that practice this form of electric rate advertising. Most Texas electricity companies will bundle the TDSP charges into the residential electric rate so you have a total all-in bundled rate to look at. This bundled rate allows the Texas consumer to be completely informed of what the total rate will look like with all charges included. This total bundled rate will usually be in the electricity facts label.

Some Texas electric companies we know who advertise residential electric rates without including the TDSP charges in the bundled rate are listed below:

Liberty Power

These companies have received several consumer complaints from their customers on our site claiming that they thought they had signed up on a bundled rate but found additional charges they were not aware of when receiving their first months bill. Since most Texas electric providers include all charges in a bundled format in their advertised rate on their site or other advertisement it has confused many consumers who than sign up with companies like Liberty Power who do not include the pole and wires charges in their advertised energy price.

Comparing Electric Rates With All TDSP Charges Bundled into Rate

If you would like to compare Texas electricity rates for residential homes and apartments that have all TDSP charges bundled into the rate then we recommend using the chart below. The comparison chart has several reputable electric companies in Texas without a history of hiding certain fees and charges from their customers. You can compare electricity prices with confidence when picking a provider from the chart below.

June 2009 Highest Priced Residential Electric Providers

To see a list of the most expensive Texas electric service providers selling residential energy please click on the below link.

Click Here to See the Highest Priced Texas Electric Providers

If you need to see the cheapest residential electric companies you can use the chart below.

These are Some of the Cheapest Dallas and North Texas Area Residential Electric Providers

All fees and charges are included in the below chart and all the electric companies in the chart are reputable stable residential energy companies in Texas. There are no hidden fees or fuel surcharges in these electric rates.

Electric Rates in all deregulated cities in Texas have come down quite a bit since last summer. Last summer a typical low cost electric rate at this time was around 16 cents a kWh for residential home owners and apartments. Now electric rates in the North Texas and East Texas area are priced at 10 – 11 cents per kWh for a 1 year fixed rate term. This is a very low price cosidering when last summer a residential electric rate in Dallas or Houston would cost anywhere from 16 – 31 cents per kWh. First Choice Power had a rate of 31 cents per kWh with some customers. We saw only a few months ago where Nueces Electric Coop was charging one of their customers 34 cents per kWh. We want to encourage residential Texas electric customers to not fall for a too good to be true rate offer but also to sign up for an exbortantly inflated electricity rate. Right now the name brand electric companies most Texas energy consumers are familiar with like TXU or Reliant are charging some of the highest prices in Texas. First Choice Power has come down from their high at 31 cents per kWh but they are still charging a lot when comparing their electric rate with several reputable discount electric companies.

A Quick Warning About Unbundled Too Good to be True Electric Rate Offers

Something to pay close attention to when deciding on a Texas electric rate is if the provider is hiding additional charges they do not make you aware of when quoting you a rate. For instance, Liberty Power advertises on the internet a residential Texas electricity rate that does not have the TDSP charges included in the energy price. We called Liberty Power to confirm what their energy price was on the phone and they did not disclose to us that there would be an additional 4 cents per kWh that would be added to the rate in the form of TDSP charges. We had to specifically ask them after the sales call if there would be an additional TDSP charges tagged on to the rate. Liberty Power also did not make us aware of a monthly service fee when quoting their residential electric rate to us. Their rate at the time that they were quoting was in the 7 cents per kWh range. Imagine thinking you were locking in at 7 cents per kWh to than get your first months bill that also contained 4 cents on top of that rate making the rate 11 cents per kWh and then add the monthly fee of $8.99 to that you have a rate in the 11.5 cents per kWh range.

It would be better for Liberty Power to just disclose to people what their rate is as well as what the customer can expect to pay in TDSP charges since most residential electric customers will pay about the same TDSP charge. Most residential electric companies in Texas will fix the TDSP charges and bundle them into their advertised electric rate. This means that most residential electric providers in Texas make their customers aware of all charges in an “all-in” quoted rate instead of just quoting the “energy only” portion of the rate. We hope this explanation can help you avoid signing up with an electric company that does not disclose all charges in their advertised price.

We visited Liberty Power’s site and they had no hard evidence of what their advertised residential electric rate is although you can sometimes find it on a Google or Yahoo ad that is just the “energy only” price. They had a quote form to fill out but no prices displayed anywhere on their site. We are very curious why they do not provide this pricing evidence on their website? A quick glance on another too good to be true offers shows that “Trickster Energy” (name hidden because of legal) is advertising a “fixed rate” at 7.5 cents per kWh with a $4.95 monthly service fee in their facts label and displays what appears to be a total bundled rate at 10.1 cents per kWh for the Oncor Utility area which is Dallas, Fort Worth, North Texas, and parts of East Texas. When reading their facts label which most customers pass on reading we find that their total bundled rate is really not the 10.1 cents per kWh that it shows. I called Trickster Energy and asked them what their rate was including TDSP charges and they said that the Oncor area rate is 10.1 cents per kWh but does not include the TDSP charges. She also went on to say she has “no idea what those charges are”. The issue is that providers know aproximately what those TDSP charges are for residential energy consumers and can easily give a close aproximate by saying 3 – 4 cents per kWh. Based on this conversation with this Trickster Energy sales lady the rate would be 10.1 + 4 cents in TDSP charges = 14.1 cents per kWh. It doesn’t matter that these additional charges are coming from the TDSP company. The issue is full price disclosure on the main advertised splash page for the residential electric price. The customer should have a clear front page example of the total “bundled rate” that includes all fees and charges including the TDSP charges.

Take a look at a Tricksters facts label as of June 8 2009. You will see that they have a charge showing 7.5 cents per kWh for the Oncor Electric Utility area but then at the top for Oncor they show 10.1 cents per kWh. Now you would assume that the total bundled electric rate is 10.1 since you have a low fee of 7.5 cents per kWh in the document at the bottom but a few cents higher at the top where it says 10.1 cents per kWh. This would be a great all in bundled residential electric rate right now. Now we call Trickster Energy and ask them if the 10.1 cent per kWh rate includes all charges. The lady on the phone says that the rate will be 10.1 cents per kWh but does not include the TDSP charges. She goes on to say that she has no idea what the TDSP charges will be? Even though it is an easy average to tell the customer she claims to not know. If you are a Trickster Energy customer let me finish the sales call correctly. Customer: “So what is the total bundled rate including TDSP Charges?” Sales Agent: “The total charges if when adding an aproximate TDSP charge of 4 cents per kWh will be 14.1 cents per kWh.” Customer: “Why is it that almost all Texas electric providers that sell residential electric service offer a total bundled residential rate in their advertisement that includes TDSP charges but your company does not?” Sales Agent: “Well we know our bosses know what the average cost of these TDSP charges will be but we have been told to state that we have no idea what these charges are.” Customer: “Doesn’t this allow the customer to assume that the rate will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 – 11 cents per kWh when in reality it will raise the electric rate several cents higher?” Sales agent: “No comment!”

Highest Priced Texas Electric Companies

These are the highest priced residential electric providers in the Dallas, Fort Worth, North Texas and parts of East Texas area. This comparison will also serve for showing who is pricing the highest in the Houston area as well although prices will typically be a little higher in Houston than in the Dallas Fort Worth area. The electric companies in the below list are reputable stable energy companies but happen to be offering electric rates at much higher prices than several other residential electric companies. There are also some electric providers in Texas that are advertising much lower rates than these providers but have hidden fees and charges they do not readily disclose on their websites or over the phone. We need to hear from consumers who have been tricked into what appeared to be a low rate but is really much higher.

Click here to see the Cheapest Available Residential Texas Electric Rates

Have You Been Surprised By Undisclosed Fees and Charges on Your Electric Bill?

If you have signed up at a higher electric rate than you were advertised by a Texas electric company than please fill out this form and let us know. There have been several complaints by Liberty Power and Trickster Energy customers that they were locked into an electric service rate much higher than what they were initially told. You may have been misled into an electric rate by one of these electric companies or possibly a different one we do not know about. Please feel free to let us know by filling out this quick form with your information.

Last Summer (2008) Some People Signed up at 15 Cents per kWh

Last summer a company by the name of Just Energy which also goes by the name of US Energy Savings Corp signed up many electric service customers to 5 year fixed residential electricity agreements. The reason so many Texas electricity customers signed up with Just Energy at 15 cents per kWh was because this was the cheapest rate when comparing 1, 2, and 3, and 5 year fixed electric rates.

Many did not realize that the summer of 2008 were some of the highest electricity prices in the Texas electric service markets history. By signing up for 5 years many Just Energy customers had locked themselves in at the highest time in the Texas energy market. Just Energy was not to blame for offering a 5 year fixed electricity agreement but consumers who decided to sign up for this long were strongly recommended by Electricity Bid to sign up for 6 months to 1 year even though the rate would be higher because it was our companies opinion that electricity rates would be coming back down. The summer of 2009 Texas saw some of the cheapest electricity rates we have seen but as of June it looks like the markets are heading back up again. We recommend 1, 2 and 3 year fixed rates at this time while prices are still low.

Liberty Power, Residential Electric Company

Don’t be Mislead, not all Electric Companies Play Fair

If you have been researching Texas residential electric rates on the net there is one provider I have noticed that is advertising on some pay per click advertising and they have some very misleading residential quotes they are telling people who call in to request a quote even if the company is not intentionally being misleading it confused me as well as my customers. A customer of ours who almost switched to Liberty Power on their 24 month electric rate called me first and we discovered their rate wasn’t what it appeared to be at first look. Although most electric companies bundled in all charges including TDSP charges in their rate some do not and they are not required to do so either by the PUCT.

Some Residential Companies Leaving off the Generation Charges

July 9 2008 we confirmed on two seperate instances that Liberty Power was quoting residential electric customers a rate that did not include the transmission and distribution service provider charges. If you look on the state power to choose website you will notice that all rates are quoted as a total bundled rate that includes the generation charge. Most people are familiar that residential rates are normally quoted as an all in rate as everyone pays the same pole charges as a residential customer.

Called Electric Company 3 Different Times to Verify

I called Liberty Power and found out they are misleading those who call even if unintentional as they are not required to bundle in TDSP charges if they do not want to. It is a Fixed Rate with an $8.95 monthly service fee but they would not tell me about the additional charge until the end of the call and only after I asked if there was a monthly service charge. The monthly fee isn’t the main issue. The main misleading part of the electric rate with Liberty Power in my opinion is that they also have a TDSP delivery charge of: $0.04 that they do not bundle into the rate when quoting you the rate on the phone. I went the whole sales call without being told of this as well as one of my customers. I called them back and asked after another sales call with them if a TDSP charge has been left out and they told me I would need to add approximately $.04 to the rate. This makes their supposed 12 month 0.1210 rate actually 0.1610 cents kWh. This makes their 24 month 0.1145 electric rate actually .01545 cents kWh. Once you add this and average in the monthly service fee the rate actually ends up being a much higher rate then quite a few competitive electric companies in Texas. It must be noted that the PUCT rules does not require that retail electric providers show the total bundled rate including TDSP charges in advertisements. Although Liberty has not broken a PUCT rule many public energy consumers will think they are signing up for an “all-in” rate when it really is only the “energy only” portion of the total rate.

Reputable Electric Companies in Texas

You can check on the top of this page above for a competitive fixed rate discount offer that includes all fees charges, and TDSP fees. The comparison chart will bring up a detailed list of energy providers along with all charges bundled into the rate. We keep this updated daily so you can check back to see what reputable electric company we recommend for the time being with a straightforward low cost Texas electric rate.

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