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Five Questions to Ask When You Shop for Electricity Rates

January 25, 2012
by admin

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?

To determine if you are satisfied with your current Texas electricity provider, you should consider the following factors:

  1. Customer service: Evaluate the responsiveness, helpfulness, and overall satisfaction with the customer service provided by your electricity provider.
  2. Pricing and plans: Compare the rates and pricing structure offered by your provider with those of other electricity companies in Texas. Assess whether your current plan aligns with your energy needs and budget.
  3. Billing and payment options: Consider the convenience and efficiency of the billing and payment methods offered by your provider. Look for any hidden fees or charges in your bills.
  4. Reliability and outage response: Assess the reliability of your electricity service and the provider’s track record in addressing power outages promptly.
  5. Renewable energy options: If you prioritize renewable energy, check if your provider offers renewable or green energy plans and the extent of their commitment to sustainability.
  6. Online account management: Evaluate the user-friendliness of your provider’s website or mobile app for managing your account, tracking usage, and accessing information or support.
  7. Reviews and recommendations: Seek feedback from other customers of your electricity provider to gauge their satisfaction levels and experiences.

By considering these factors and reflecting on your own experiences. You can make a more informed judgment about whether you are satisfied with your current Texas electricity provider.

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?

The choice between fixed-rate and variable-rate electricity terms depends on your specific circumstances and preferences. Let’s explore the benefits of each:

Fixed-Rate Electricity Terms:

  • Stability: With a fixed-rate plan, your electricity rate remains constant for the duration of the term, regardless of fluctuations in the market or seasonal changes. This provides budget certainty, as you know exactly how much you will pay for electricity each month.
  • Protection against price hikes: If electricity prices increase in the future, you will be shield from those changes, as your rate remains locked in. This can be particularly beneficial if you anticipate rising energy costs.
  • Long-term planning: Fixed-rate plans are often suitable for individuals or businesses that prefer stability and want to plan their finances without worrying about potential rate fluctuations.
  • Peace of mind: You won’t have to closely monitor electricity prices or be affected by sudden spikes, providing peace of mind regarding your energy expenses.

Variable-Rate Electricity Terms:

  • Potential savings: Variable-rate plans are tied to the market price of electricity, which means that if electricity prices decrease, you could benefit from lower rates and potentially save money.
  • Flexibility: Variable-rate plans usually don’t have long-term contracts or early termination fees, allowing you to switch providers or plans more easily if you find better options or if you anticipate market changes.
  • Short-term commitment: If you only require electricity service for a short period, such as a few months, a variable-rate plan can be a suitable choice without tying you to a long-term contract.
  • Awareness of market trends: Variable-rate plans require more attention to market fluctuations, as your electricity rates can change from month to month. If you are comfortable with monitoring and adapting to market changes, this type of plan may be suitable.

Ultimately, the most beneficial option depends on your risk tolerance, budgetary needs, and market expectations. If you prioritize stability and want to avoid unexpected cost increases, a fixed-rate plan is advisable. However, if you are willing to track market trends and believe electricity prices might decrease, a variable-rate plan could potentially offer savings. Consider your circumstances and preferences before making a decision.

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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