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Five Questions to Ask When You Shop for Electricity Rates

January 25, 2012

During the last decade, there have been several changes and evolution in the electricity industry following both State and Federal initiatives. One of the most radical and controversial among these changes involved the restructuring of the power market into something more competitive and deregulated. Several states across the country have adopted energy deregulation, giving their consumers the power to choose providers and shop for electricity rates according to their convenience.

From the regulated monopolies of local utility companies to the deregulation of retail electric providers, energy deregulation spurred higher levels of competition among electricity companies in states like Texas that implemented such changes to the market. Although the production and transmission of electricity remains regulated and under the control of governing bodies like the Public Utility Commission of Texas, retail providers compete for consumers’ attention when they shop for electricity rates.

To gain the most benefit from your option to shop for electricity rates, one must first make several considerations and ask the following basic questions to guide them when they choose suppliers. Although cheap electricity rates are undoubtedly the most common reason why a consumer would switch electric provider, there are other things to consider that you should include in the selection process.

Do I live in an energy deregulated market?

The power t0 choose retail electric providers is logically available only to states that have a deregulated energy market. But not all areas in a particular state have a competitive market. In the case of Texas, some cities like Austin and San Antonio do not have electricity competition available yet, although major cities like Houston, Dallas, and Forth Worth have deregulated markets.

Am I satisfied with my current Texas electricity provider?

Before you decide to shop for electricity rates and make a switch to another electricity provider, you must first ask yourself if you are not satisfied with your current one. As mentioned earlier, the price of electricity should not be the only reason for making the switch as there are other tangible and intangible benefits that you can get from one supplier that you will not get from another.

Do I have an existing contract with my current electricity provider?

As simple as this may seem, you should check if you are bound by whatever contract you may have with your current retail electricity provider before allocating the resources to shop for electricity rates and new providers. If your current contract is about to expire and you feel that you are not satisfied with your current supplier, then by all means start with the selection process and get the best deals available.

What terms would give me the most benefit: fixed-rate or variable-rate terms?

There are several terms of services and payment schemes that you should consider when you shop for electricity rates. Depending on your needs and lifestyle, you can choose between and long-term fixed-rate plan that can lock in you electricity rates for a specified period of time, or you can opt for a variable rate plan that would depend on what the overall electricity market dictates.

Are Green Energy options of interest to me?

Ready to go green? You can do so by choosing a retail electric provider that sells electricity coming from alternative energy resources like solar and wind – forms of renewable energy that is slowly making a dent in the Texas electricity market. Participating in a green energy plan like this allows you to give your part in the battle for climate change and offset its negative effects by using green energy.

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