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What you should know when signing up for Electricity ?

September 9, 2014
by dmirza

Choosing a Texas electricity provider is an important part of life in Texas, because without them, you’ll literally be powerless at home. Fortunately, now that deregulation has opened up the market in Texas, you can choose not only your provider, but also the power to choose a plan from your provider. The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) has set rules for energy providers to standardize their plans, so they are all easy to read and understand. This standardization is primarily found in the Electricity Facts Label, or EFL.

The EFL contains a lot of information about the selected plan. It tells you the plan type, the contract length, price per kilowatt hour (kWh), generation sources, and emissions of the plan. At the top of the EFL, you will find the provider name, the plan name, service area, and effective date. The section below that will give you pricing details depending on the amount of electricity you use. Most retail energy providers (REPs) have a minimum base charge for using less than 1000 kWh. If you use more than that, that minimum charge is not applied and your electricity rate per kWh actually drops some. This is similar to buying items in bulk at a wholesale club. The more of the item you get, the cheaper each individual item is.

Next, there is a disclosure chart. This section details your contract length, the type of plan (fixed, variable, or indexed), early termination fees, any other applicable fees or credits, and the amount of renewable energy content. The amount of renewable content is compared to the state average, so you can see whether this plan is better or worse than the state average. Some EFLs also list the amount of content of all their generation sources, be they coal, nuclear, natural gas, or renewable. They also may list the emissions levels from carbon monoxide or particulates as well. Both the generation sources and emissions are compared relative to the state averages.

Finally, at the bottom you will find all of the contact information for your provider, including their address, phone number, email, website, and hours of operation. When you actually choose a plan, your provider will send you a full document of all of their terms of service (ToS), fully detailing the contract, fees, benefits, and any other pertinent information. Should you have any issues with your service, such as a power outage, contact your local utility, the name of which is listed at the top under Service Area. All electricity is the same, whether you get it from one provider or another. The quality of service is mandated by the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), and they also handle switching providers, ensuring you have an uninterrupted service during the switch. Cheap electricity is at your fingertips, and you have the power to choose your energy provider and plan.

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