Results for tag: power to choose
There are some misconceptions about energy deregulation in Texas, and most of them are a result of the ambiguity of the term “deregulation.” Many people believe that energy deregulation means the government has taken off its gloves and allowed the market to take care of itself. While deregulation allows for lots of freedoms on the part of retailers and consumers alike, the idea that there is no governmental oversight is not true.
Rather than an absence of government control, deregulation is best described as the absence of market conditions that foster a monopoly. Before deregulation, each utility company had a virtual monopoly on its service area. Today, areas that are deregulated have active competition between retail electric providers.
In Texas, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) still has a level of control over the energy market as a whole. You may know that some areas of Texas have yet to be deregulated. That’s because the PUC has determined that the market conditions aren’t adequate for fostering competition.
Before any market in Texas is deregulated, the move has to be approved by the PUC. Likewise, in order for a retail electric provider to begin selling electricity packages in Texas, it has to submit to the rules enforced by the PUC. Retail electric providers are required to become certified and register as retailers in Texas by following PUC procedures.
Controlling the registration process of retail electric providers is just one of the ways the PUC continues to regulate the energy market within the deregulated Texas system. The PUC also oversees the actions and decisions of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). ERCOT is in charge of managing the flow of electricity around 85% of the state’s grid and administering customers’ changes to new retail electric providers.
Despite being a deregulated market in name, energy in Texas is still regulated in some regards by government and other institutions. Some form of oversight is necessary to ensure a safe, effective and competitive energy market. Deregulation does allow Texans the power to choose where they purchase their energy supply.
Regulation within a deregulated market also allows consumers to have a clear path of recourse if they are taken advantage of by a retail provider or utility company. The right mixture of regulation and freedom is what gives Texans the power to choose their electricity provider.
When people comment on the deregulated market, they tend to speak to the residential customer and the residential customer alone. I’m guilty of it myself. Clearly, homeowners and renters need to know about their options, but there’s a far broader audience out there. I’m talking about businesses – from the biggest factory operations to the smallest ma and pa shops.
A lot of businesses have the same questions as residential customers: What’s the cheapest rate? Who’s the most reliable REP? How can switching help me save money? The big difference between residential service and commercial service lies in how you search. If you’re a business owner looking for a new electric retailer, it’s good to know the lay of the land before you really get into the thick of things.
How is your business classified?
Retail electric providers like to separate their commercial service into divisions. In Texas, companies are usually labeled as a small business, medium business or large business. Your classification is decided in accordance with your energy usage.
Are you looking at the right providers?
Many of the same REPs that provide residential electricity also provide commercial electricity. If you’re satisfied with your service at home, you might want to expand your patronage to the workplace. Other residential providers may have affiliates that specialize in commercial solutions, so take a good look around at your options. Your residential provider might use a different brand name for its commercial service.
What kind of customer service do you expect?
Since larger establishments are going to require more electricity, they’re usually going to require some special attention. That’s why many REPs offer dedicated account managers, a variety of plans and easy ways to oversee your costs and expenditures. What do you value most from a customer service standpoint?
Ultimately, you’ve made it this far as a business owner in part because of your ability to spot a good deal when you see one. You know how to run the numbers, you know how to find the best rates and you know what a money-saving opportunity looks like. Trust your instincts; get a quote or two for your company’s electric supply today.
How does a retail electric provider separate itself from the pack? In truth, it’s partly a matter of opinion. Shopping for an electric retailer isn’t the same cut-and-dried system for everyone. In fact, it’s pretty subjective for consumers looking for more than just the cheapest rate on the market. Choosing your electric retailor is a big decision; just think about it: your lighting, appliance use, heating and cooling could all depend on one purchase. Big picture, you’ll probably want to align yourself with a retailor that can offer more than bottom-dollar (potentially flakey) service.
What should you prioritize, then? Again, it’s mostly up to you, but if you’re looking for an easy place to start, dig up some research about your local providers’ philanthropic efforts. Where and how a provider gives back can speak volumes.
Philanthropy means responsibility
When an electric provider invests in the community, it’s more than just an act of kindness – it’s a stamp of reliability. Only top tier providers retain the financial stability and corporate breadth to dedicate their resources toward pro bono projects.
Electric providers are businesses like any other; it’s their goal to make money. Nevertheless, great companies have great public initiatives to match. You know you’re dealing with a dependable retailer when it has the capital and concern to give back to the community. At face value, it’s great to see your REP embrace a charitable vision. Knowing it also marks a standard of dependability is the icing on the cake.
What about your interests?
Here’s where your personal preferences come into play: Energy providers reach all across the board when it comes to community involvement. From sports teams to nonprofits, electric companies have been known to sponsor initiatives from all ends of the spectrum. Depending on where your values lie, your electric provider could fall in line accordingly.
In all, it shouldn’t be hard to pick a provider that mirrors your values. There’re plenty of great REPs out there; it’s up to you to choose the right one.
As a consumer in Texas’s deregulated electricity market, you have certain rights, as outlined on the Texas Electric Choice “Power to Choose” website. One of the roles of the Public Utility Commission is to help protect your rights regardless of which Retail Electric Provider you choose. Your most basic right as a customer is to be able to choose the Affiliate Retail Electric Provider in your area, or the provider that originally generated and sold electricity before deregulation. You are also entitled to a disclosure of “Your Rights as a Customer” from any Retail Electric Provider you choose.
Some of the other basic rights of Texas electricity customers have already been covered on this site. For instance, one of your rights is access to an Electricity Facts Label, or EFL, from every Retail Electric Provider. As mentioned in a previous post, this label provides important information including pricing for three different usage levels, contract terms, and information about the provider’s electricity generation from renewable content.
Texas customers also enjoy various rights that help protect you when choosing or switching providers. The right to non-discrimination means that an REP may not deny service based on “income level, location in an economically distressed area, or qualification for low-income or energy efficiency services,” according to Power to Choose. Privacy of information means that one REP cannot release your information to another REP or other company without your permission. Slamming (switching your electric service provider without your express permission) and cramming (adding charges for optional services of any kind without your permission) are also illegal.
Your other rights as a customer include the Terms of Service agreement, or your contract, and the option of non-English language materials for Spanish-speaking customers. If an REP markets electric service in another language or languages, they must make customer information available in those languages as well.
If you feel that a Texas Retail Electric Provider has violated your customer rights, you can call the PUC’s Customer Hotline (1-888-PUC-TIPS). You can rest easy knowing that you’ll enjoy these basic customer rights with whichever Retail Electric Provider you choose. Of course, that doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy the same benefits with every provider, so it’s still important to take the time to choose the Retail Electric Provider that’s right for you. You can find out more information about different providers by visiting the pages on this site, or call today for more information on how you can lock in your Texas energy prices.