Deregulation

How has deregulation changed how Texans can buy electricity?

Electricity deregulation in Texas is legislative process that passed the Texas Senate in 2002, drastically changing the way most Texans purchase power. Instead of buying electricity from only one provider, eligible Texas power consumers can now choose to purchase service from a variety of retail electric providers (REPs). It sounds good — but it’s hard for Texans to know which REP to choose; and poor decisions can be costly. According to a 2014 report by the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power (TCAP), deregulation cost Texans about $22 billion from 2002 to 2012.

Whether you live in a city or in the country, electricity comes to your home or business through the same wires, regardless of where or how it is produced. You also get the same electricity regardless of which REP you choose. So, what are REPs? REPs are middlemen between you, the consumer, and the power-generating infrastructure. They purchase power from generators and distribution companies, and resell it at a marked-up rate. The only service they provide to you, is to send you a bill. If a tree falls on your power lines, you call your power distribution company for service, not the REP.

Does everyone in Texas have the power to choose their electric provider?

No. While deregulation created more options for most Texans, the power to choose your electric provider depends on where in Texas you live. Some communities are served by municipalities, cooperatives (co-ops), or investor-owned utilities, so electric choice is not available. To see whether there is electric choice in your area, refer to the map below:

Why do some REPs charge more?  Are they better or more reliable?

Some REPs charge higher rates simply because they can.  A lot of Texas customers do not shop around for their REPs.  And if that wasn’t enough, even if customers try to shop around the REPs make their rate sheets so complicated, most people don’t understand how much they are being overcharged. At ElectricityCalculator.com, we don’t like it when REPs fool customers into accepting a plan that looks reasonable at a glance, but includes hidden charges and fees when you examine the details. That’s why we developed our patent-pending algorithm — to help you quickly find the very best rate in your area.


Calculate Your Savings For FREE  


Electricity

Is my electricity more reliable with one REP vs. another?

No. Your retail electric provider only handles billing, the power lines in all deregulated areas are all maintained and repaired by the TDSP, not your REP. Regardless of which electric company you choose, your electricity will continue to be delivered safely and reliably by the same local wires company (TDSP), which is regulated by the Public Utility Commission.

What if I have a power outage?

You should immediately call the TDSP for your service area to report service issues. Use the following numbers to report power outages in your area.

CenterPoint Energy - (800) 332-7143
Oncor - (888) 313-4747
Texas New Mexico Power - (888) 866-7456
AEP North & Central - (866) 223-8508
Sharyland - (800) 545-4513 (West and North Texas)
Sharyland McAllen - (956) 668-9551 (Mission and McAllen Texas)

If you are not sure which TDSP is responsible for your region you can find the information on your electric bill.

What is ElectricityCalculator.com and How Does It Find Me the Best Texas Electric Rate?

How does ElectricityCalculator.com find the best plan? 

Cheap electricity is out there — but it can be tough to find on your own sifting through thousands of plans and interpreting all the different rate structures.  That’s why we formed ElectricityCalculator.com. ElectricityCalculator.com was founded when John Spellman and Jerry Broaddus, two electrical engineers, got fed up with overpaying electricity companies and searching through thousands of complicated plans in order to find cheap electricity. They developed a system to quantitatively evaluate and compare the electricity rates charged by retail companies in relation to an individual user’s anticipated electric usage, allowing customers to make the most cost-effective selection. Our patent-pending algorithm compares plans from all Texas retail electric providers, evaluating thousands of variables, factors in your needs and typical usage, and identifies the best choice for you in seconds. Now, finding cheap electricity companies in Texas has never been simpler.

How is ElectricityCalculator.com’s service different from Powertochoose.org?

"Powertochoose.org is Texas' website for displaying the market place of plans available to deregulated power users in Texas. The website lets you filter by your zip code (to roughly determine your TDSP), and your general power usage, to filter the plans it displays. You are also able to filter for plan types, which include fixed rate, variable rate, prepaid, or indexed plans.


PowertoChoose.org looks simple at first and seems straight forward but unfortunately since the pricing displayed is summarized in a way that is not tailored to your specific usage and needs you can easily end up paying a lot more than you bargained for. You must analyze the information in each Fact Sheet  and read through all terms for each plan and provider and apply them to your usage to determine which plan is the least expensive. The REPs “game” The Power-to-Choose website to make their plans look better. They use multiple rates and credits to make plans look very good at the KWH points that are displayed on the web site. Each plan shows costs at 500, 1000, and 2000 KWH. 


PowertoChoose.org provides Fact Sheets which have the details of the plans’ billing structures. The Fact Sheets are often very confusing and require using math to calculate the rate you are actually paying for the power. They are further complicated by the pass-through charges from the TDSP. Sometimes they include these rates and charges without specifying them, and other times they exclude them from the rates and give you a link to a website that displays the charges. It can be easy to miss a fee or service term that can drastically increase your bill and unfortunately you won’t know until you are locked into the contract and get your first bill.

Couldn’t I just do this on my own? 

Sure you can, but you may get the wrong answer and end up paying a lot more than you bargained for. The plan information is summarized on fact labels and advertisements but the actual rate structure is very complex so you could pay significantly more by selecting the wrong plan. You will see how much of a difference there is between the plans when you become a member. The difference between the best plan and the second best plan is sometimes hundreds of dollars annually depending on your individual usage.

I called my current REP and they said they could get me a good rate what should I do?

Get it in writing request the fact label and make sure it includes the TDU charges!  REPs will try to sell you a "great" rate over the phone and quote you prices like 4 to 6 cents per kwh to try to keep you but they aren't including monthly charges, TDSP charges, and other hidden fees which can add 5 to 15 cents per kwh onto your bill! If they beg you not to switch get a FACT LABEL for the plan otherwise that 4 cents/kwh turns into 15 or 18 cents per kwh. Not sure how to read it?  No problem, email us a copy and we can compare it for you.

Why isn’t it free?

We get it. Why would you want to pay when similar services are offered for “free”? Because they’re not really free. Many competitors receive commissions from the Retail Electric Providers they recommend. In most cases when a door to door salesman for a REP is quoting you a rate they have marked it up, their commission is added into the price per Kwh you are paying. They may also charge inflated electricity rates, and omit plans from providers who don’t have compensation agreements with them.

How do "Green Plans" work? 

Your ElectricityCalculator.com analysis shows a 12 month fossil fuel plan option and a Green Plan option. So how does a "Green Plan" work? When a wind farm generates electricity on a windy day, that electricity is delivered to the grid real time regardless of the demand for electricity at that moment. A Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) is created that corresponds to every 1MWh (1000 kWh) of power generated from that green power facility. This certificate is sold to electricity providers separately from the power generated, making it a financial instrument. When you select a 100% green electricity plan your electricity provider has purchased RECs and, as you use electricity, your provider tracks your kWh usage and redeems the RECs to offset your usage. That’s essentially how you get renewable energy ‘delivered’ to your home or business.

Using ElectricityCalculator.com

Does Electricity Calculator handle commercial rate comparisons?

No. Electricity Calculator.com does not handle commercial accounts at this time. 

Why ElectricityCalculator need my power bill information?

ElectricityCalculator estimates your usage for each month based on the information you enter, and calculates your cost per each of the plans available on the market. Fill out some basic information needed for analysis or upload a copy of your electricity bill.  We calculate the ratio of your usage to the average usage, and then apply that ratio to each of the months in the model. Our model covers your location and takes into account whether you use gas or electric heat.  This provides a quick estimate of you approximate savings so you can see if switching is right for you. For a better estimate you can provide actual usage history from your Smart Meter and billing cost or provide more bills for your analysis. (email to info@electricitycalculator.com)


ElectricityCalculator.com monitors available plans on a daily basis to keep our data up to date. We interpret each rate sheet to determine the variables for our formula, which calculates your power cost for each month.


When you enter your address or provide your bill we use it to confirm you Electric Service ID (ESID),  to lookup exactly which Transmission, Distribution and Service Provider (TDSP) brings the power to your residence. This is the company that owns the wires and transformers that get the power from the statewide power grid to your house. The TDSP determines which of the plans are available to your residence. We then calculate your annual cost for each of the plans. 


Following your analysis, we also allow you to enter any early termination fees you may have if you are under a current contract so that can be included in the savings calculation along with your annual ElectricityCalculator.com fee; then voilà, we show you your annual power cost for the least expensive plans.

I can’t find this month’s electric bill information, what should I do?

If you have another month you can use that information, there will be a section to specify the service month of the usage information you are entering. For best results, we recommend you use a bill that represents your typical usage (if your residence is unoccupied for a billing term we recommend you select a different bill for usage basis).  If you are unable to locate any of your electric bills, simply go to www.smartmetertexas.com and you can log on or create a log in to view your usage history.  This Smart Meter Texas is a secure, collaborative website maintained by all the TDSP’s in Texas that allows you to see information from your electricity meter just like the REPs.

How does “Calculating Your NET Savings” work? 

The first step is to see if you are eligible to select your provider and save. Simply enter your name, address and email, then confirm your ESID number. We can then calculate which plan is best for you and how much money you will save.


Calculate Your Savings For FREE  


OK, so you now know you can save lots of money. Yippee! The second step is to see if you are in a contract with your present REP. If you are there, may be a cost to cancel your contract. You can look at your bill and see whether it shows the contract expiration date and associated cost of cancelling. It may or may not. We suggest you call them and find out this information. Then contact us and we can assist you in determining what your net savings will be and whether it makes sense to switch now or wait. 

How do I become an ElectricityCalculator.com member? 

Easy. Just click “Join Now”, after your analysis and follow the prompts to enter your personal and payment information, click to choose your plan, then fill out the authorization agreement information so we can handle the switch for you. You will receive an email confirmation within 2 business days confirming your switch has been submitted for processing.

After I become an ElectricityCalculator.com how does the switch happen?

After you join, you select your preferred plan (12 month regular fossil fuell plan or 12 month green plan) and you complete the authorization agreement form with the information needed for us to enroll you with the new REP.  Ecalc.com staff will process your switch through the REP and email you a copy of the confirmation provided by the REP.  If any additional information is needed we may reach out by phone or email. 

How do I know which plan to choose? 

So you now know you can save lots of money, and you are ready to start saving.  Great! Once you have activated your membership, it reveals the REP and Plan names at the top of your "Best Plans For You" results page in your account.  One option is a regular, 12 month fossil fuel plan.  The other option to the right is the 12 month "Green" Plan for those that want a more environmentally friendly option.  Typically, Green Plans have slightly higher rates but there are times when a Green Plan might actually be the best rate on the market.  

What is the best contract length? 

Most Texas electricity companies offer a range of contract term length options, with 6-, 12- and 24-month increments being most popular.  The wholesale price of electricity varies with the price of natural gas. The longer the plan, the more the REP has to guess about the future price of natural gas to offer a fixed price for the length of the plan. To protect themselves, they often charge higher rates for longer-term plans. Since typically the price of natural gas is highest when the demand is highest, we recommend renewing your contract in the spring and the fall. Our service finds the best 12 month plan because it is a good term length to protect you from market fluctuations but still gives you the flexibility of being able to shop around every year and take advantage of price downturns when they occur.

Why do my results only show Fixed Rate plans? What about Variable Rate Plans?

ElectricityCalculator.com only displays data for fixed rate plans. We do not calculate for variable rate plans because their rates only last one month, after which you are automatically moved into a high-rate variable plan. The indexed plans also change based on the cost of natural gas, which fluctuates on a monthly basis. This prevents us from estimating yearly costs. The time of use plans have higher rates during high usage periods of each day. We do not have enough data to estimate these plans’ costs.

Now you are signed up and saving money. What about the future? 

After you become a member, we will touch base with you and send you any confirmation number we get from the new REP. We will monitor your contract expiration date. Then, about two weeks before your contract expires, we will analyze the plans available and recommend the best choice currently available so you can choose and we can process another switch for you when your contract is ending. Be sure to add us to your email contacts so you will see our messages regarding your account status.

We will perform this analysis automatically at the end of your contracts as long as you remain a member.

What is the ElectricityCalculator Partner Program?

Do I have to call my old provider to tell them I’m switching?

No. When you switch electricity companies, they will contact ERCOT on your behalf. ERCOT will then mail you a notice to let you know the switch request is processing. ERCOT will notify your old company that you have changed service providers. You do not need to contact your current electric company.

I’ve never heard of this new provider. What happens if my new REP stops serving customers in my area or goes out of business?

You might be thinking you should pay more to stay with a company you know has been around forever or you might be stuck without power later.  Don’t pass up the huge savings! You can feel secure in knowing that if anything happens to your new REP you will not be without electricity. The electric company will give you at least 30 days' advance notice to give you time to select a new provider.  In such a situation they will also notify customers that you are not held to your contract cancellation fee terms, you can select a new REP that will continue saving you money. 

Whether you have an apartment, home or grand estate, we find you the lowest 12 month rate plan for your estimated usage.  On average our members are saving 53% annually.

Will my power be turned off during the switch?

No there is no service interruption.  Changing Retail Electric Providers (REP) has no effect on the physical transmission of electricity to your home.  Your current REP will bill you for the service period before the switch is effective and your new REP will bill you for the periods after.  REPs have no effect on reliability of your electricity other than disconnection for failure to pay your power bill.

What if I have bad credit can I still switch?

Some Electric companies may require a security deposit for new customers depending on your payment history or credit history. REPs may require the security deposit to be paid in full on your first bill or spread out over several months if your payment history/credit history is not sufficient. Your deposit is refundable and will be returned to you if you are in good standing when ending your service with your electric provider. When you enter your information in on your new REPs site or call them they will notify you up front whether a deposit will be required and the exact amount and terms.  Since we protect your privacy and do not ask for SSN or DL information ElectricityCalculator.com is not able to access your payment history/credit history or factor deposit amounts into Net Savings Calculation.

Who will send my electric bills — you, or the REP? 

Your REP will bill you directly. We stay out of that because we want to keep your confidential information, such as your SSN, Driver’s License number, and credit card number, private. Security is very important to us.

What happens if my contract expires and I do not switch plans or REPs? 

This is where many people lose big money. If you don’t choose a new plan at the correct time, you will pay higher rates. If you don’t do anything at the end of your contract, your REP will enroll you in a high rate variable rate plan that will fluctuate with market rates. The rate will change on a monthly basis and it will be very high.

About a month before the end of your contract, your REP will mail you an “end of contract” notice. The REP will try to get you to renew your contract with one of their plans. Use ElectricityCalculator.com to analyze the current set of plans. REPs make money by offering new plans at a low rate, hoping that customers never look at the price again and get shifted automatically to high rates when the term is up.

Have more questions?
Call us at 1-844-883-2252