Prior to the 2002 bill that deregulated the Texas energy market, cheap electricity wasn’t really a possibility. Utilities determined the rate you paid for electricity, and if you didn’t like the rate, you couldn’t change to another utility unless you moved to another part of the state. However, once deregulated, the market was opened up for competition between different energy providers. This significantly decreased the prices paid by the consumers. Some people believe that the electricity from a company offering cheap electricity is inferior to one charging a higher rate. Fortunately, the saying of “you get what you pay for” doesn’t really apply to the Texas electricity market.
Utilities are still very much a part of the energy network. However, they only maintain the power lines that deliver your electricity. Retail Energy Providers (REPs) purchase shares of electricity from generation facilities like nuclear plants, wind farms, and coal plants. They then sell this electricity to you, the consumer. Regardless of who your REP is, the electricity is being transmitted over the same lines, so there is no difference in the quality of electricity. Each REP may have varying levels of customer service, but higher priced REPs are not always better and lower priced REPs are not always bad.
Besides being able to choose your provider, you also have the power to choose the plan you want for your electric service. Some plans vary based on contract length, with longer contracts having a lower rate that gets locked in and won’t change even if retail rates go up, other plans offer renewable energy. If you are interested in having your home powered by renewable energy, check the Electricity Facts Label (EFL) for the plans offered by a REP. The EFL will tell you exactly how much of the electricity is generated from renewable sources. Some REPs exclusively offer renewable plans, so every plan will be 100% renewable energy.
When it comes to contract lengths, it’s best to consider your current situation and energy needs. If you’ve just moved to the state and are still looking for an energy provider, find one with a variable rate monthly plan. The rate for these plans will go up or down based on market conditions, but there is no penalty if you decide to switch providers. If you’re ready to settle in for the long term, contracts vary in length between 3 months and 36 months. When you choose a fixed rate plan with a contract, your rate will remain the same, despite any changes in market conditions, whether good or bad. You could also be penalized if you back out of the contract before it ends.
Just remember that no matter whom your provider is, your electricity quality will always be high quality. And whenever you switch providers, your service will not be interrupted. On your switch date, billing will be transferred from your old provider to your new one, but your power will continue to flow for the whole transfer. Houstonians, compare and shop electric rates from providers with Shop Houston Electricity.