For more than a decade, The Watchdog has taught thousands of Texans how to buy cheap electricity from reliable companies that don’t mislead consumers.
When deregulation started around the turn of the century, there was a lot of confusion. That’s why I started distributing my version of the buying instructions. At the time, I worked to convince others that TXU Energy, which before deregulation had a monopoly, was no longer the be-all and end-all.
My training has always been based on the proper use of the state-sponsored procurement website, www.PowerToChoose.org. But I’m not the only one with ideas. After my latest hands-on story was published earlier this month, I heard from Texans who had their own strategies. They are worth sharing, so with their permission, here are the highlights.
Dallas’ Josh Gruber: “The main problem is the proliferation of companies and the lack of means to assess their honesty or reliability. In some ways, the PowerToChoose.org website makes the situation worse because it doesn’t provide in-depth ways to compare companies. In this regard, I have found the Home Energy Club website to be a godsend. If a business isn’t listed or isn’t rated well, forget about it.
“Are there monthly fees? What is the price per kWh for different levels of energy consumption? Are there any discounts or giveaways? I found the process painful, complex, depressing and time consuming.
William Newbill of Plano: “There are no bargains on PowerToChoose.org. I have a new strategy: find the best fixed rate with the lowest cancellation penalty. I think the break-of-contract game is going to turn out to be the cheapest strategy. Variable rates are exorbitant, and some months will exceed the $175 cancellation fee.
Dallas’ Jayson Minsky: “You might want to encourage people to consider five-year plans and hope to cancel when rates return to normal in the future. I finally decided not to limit the term to 24 months and found that the four and five year rates were certainly more reasonable. I chose Amigo Energy for five years with a $175 cancellation fee. That’s an 87% increase over my current plan, but it could have been 200%.
Elaine Ekmark from Dallas:You go to TexasPowerGuide.com and enter your address. You fill in the monthly usage quantity of kWh for a period of 12 months. Then you press the enter button and a list of retail electricity providers is displayed. You can’t see vendors’ names without paying a one-time fee of $9.95. These fees are valid for six months.
“Always choose a fixed rate and get your renewal date between January and April. Never in the summer. They also monitor your electricity consumption and if the algorithm finds a cheaper plan – even terminating the contract early – they will will let you know so you can upgrade to this plan.You need to email them and ask for monitoring.
Plano’s Kathi Boor: “With the mad rush I knew we were going to have with electricity, I opted for a three-year contract through Texas Power Switch (a mass-buying group). The base rate of 6.7 cents per kWh rose to an actual rate of 10.9 cents per kWh after the nasty hidden charges. There is absolutely no risk. They put you in the pool, get a rate and you are free not to accept them.
Mark Kerins of Dallas: “I couldn’t believe how much of a headache it was going through the different plans to find one that worked for me. Look at your bills from the past year to get an idea of how much electricity you’re actually using. A plan with a low kWh rate and higher fixed costs may be better if you use a lot of electricity. A model with a higher price per kWh may actually be better for you if it has lower fixed costs and you’re not using a ton of electricity. »
Carl Langbein of Midlothian: “When shopping for a supplier, get written confirmation, via email or text, of what they have been quoted with a copy of the actual contract, if possible, before signing a new agreement.”
Princeton’s Brian Cruse: “Watchdog, why don’t you ever talk about looking for power companies that offer monthly credits?” Most people seem oblivious to monthly credit. The strategy I use is to find the company that offers the best monthly credit for the 1000-2000 kWh range. I currently receive a $95 credit on each invoice. »
Richard Bach of Garland: “Another thing to consider in the plans is the base charge, which is typically $9.95 per month on many plans. This can be a killer for low power users like me.
Such a wide variety of suggestions from members of my Watchdog Nation.
Remember that many people pay too much for electricity in Texas because they don’t spend time shopping. It doesn’t have to be you. With electricity prices in Texas the highest they’ve ever been, The Watchdog hopes this helps.
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The Dallas Morning News Watchdog column is the 2019 winner of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ top column writing award. The contest judge called his winning works “models of suspenseful storytelling and public service.”
Read his winning columns:
* Assist the widow of Officer JD Tippit, the Dallas police officer killed by Lee Harvey Oswald, to be buried next to her late husband
* Help a waitress injured by an unscrupulous used car dealer