It’s not that easy being deregulated . . .

. . .But deregulation is the color of money
And deregulation can be cool and shopping-like
And deregulation can be big like a variable rate plan, or important
Like a TXU/Oncor, or tall like a wind turbine.

Deregulation of the Texas electric market brought us the “POWER TO CHOOSE.”  You can check out the Public Utilities Commission’s site to learn about electric competition in Texas and shop for electricity providers.  But be forewarned, sorting through the options can be time-consuming and confusing. Customers can pick a provider based on price; whether power is produced by coal, wind or natural gas; the length of the contract; and whether the price is fixed or adjustable, like a mortgage.  But it’s what you don’t know as you sort through all the information that can cost you money.

For instance, the quoted rate might not include transmission and distribution charges, monthly customer charges or other recurring fees buried in the fine print. Some companies may require a deposit, assess a hefty fee if you end your contract or charge higher rates if you use too little electricity. A rate of 10 cents per kilowatt hour might apply if you use a certain amount of power each month; but if you use less, the rate might be 20 percent higher.

So if you are in the market for a new provider, keep these things in mind.  Below we’ve included a list of key questions you might want to ask your provider before signing on the dotted line.

What will I pay per kilowatt hour of electricity based on 1,000 kWh of average monthly usage?

What is included in the quoted rate?

___the electricity cost,
_______¢ per kilowatt hour (kWh)
Is there a maximum or minimum kWh usage per month
What is the difference in the rate?
________ kWh minimum   ______¢ per kilowatt hour if under
________ kWh maximum  ______¢ per kilowatt hour if over

___the transmission and distribution charges,

___fuel charges

___is there a demand charge (you are charged based on your peak usage)

___a monthly customer charge

___other recurring fees

Is this offer

___a fixed-rate offer

___a variable-rate offer
What are the terms? ____________________________________

___an indexed offer?
What are the terms? ____________________________________

If it is a variable- or indexed-rate offer, how can it change, and how do I find out when, and by how much?

Is there a contract?

___YES  /  how long is it for? ___________


Is a deposit required?

___YES  /  how much is the deposit? ___________


What happens when my contract period expires?

What if I miss a payment?

For those of you who choose your electric provider like some of us choose our 401k fund (just pick one on the page so you can get the paperwork in on time and pray that it doesn’t crash and burn), State Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, recently filed a bill, HB 1006, that would require all electricity providers in the state to offer a standard one-year, fixed-rate package that would not include hidden costs such as fees, special charges or rate changes based on the amount of electricity a customer uses.  Click here if you want to read the bill and find out where it is in the legislative process.


By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas