Where’s the best place to shop for electricity? There is a ton of advertising out there, but overall, the best place to start is on powertochoose.org. This website is sponsored by the Texas Public Utility Commission; but there are many knock-offs for this site, be sure that you see the PUC seal on the opening page. I credit this group for its unbiased approach to helping consumers find the best deal for them. But they put on the site the pricing plan that the suppliers give them. This site is free to the supplier so that is the biggest reason you’ll usually get the best prices here. Beware of an easy renewal that your current provider might offer a few months before contract expiration. That price will almost always be much higher than current market pricing. Easy for you means profitable for the provider. If you want to stay with your current provider, first check the current pricing on powertochoose.org, then ask your current provider to get closer to what you could buy from someone else.
- When you open the site, you will put in your zip code, then click “Narrow your search”
- Average electric usage, select either 1000 or 2000 kwh/month, then Next
- Click “fixed rate”, then Next
- How long? Put in 12 to 36 months (usually longer terms are cheaper), then Next
- Click “view plans”
So let’s try to “uncomplicate” some of the rates you might see on this site. The prices are listed in terms of how much electricity you might use in a typical month, 500, 1000, and 2000 kilowatt-hours are the standard usage levels for the website. You will see an average price per kwh for each of these usage levels. Some of these look like a pretty good deal…since the suppliers are ranked by price, many of those appear on the first page. Traditionally, this has been the way that most people shop, just pick the supplier with the lowest rate for the approximate amount you might use.
You will see many companies that you’ve never heard of. The barriers to market entry were made intentionally low so that more competitors would join in. You will see the company ratings…the more stars the better, but these ratings are official complaints per so many customers. So the newer companies get hit harder with a small number of complaints as they don’t have as many customers to dilute the ratio, this is not necessarily a reason to avoid a new competitor. Why don’t you see the big names, Reliant, TXU, Gexa, etc, among the lower prices? These companies advertise enough to attract plenty of customers and they don’t need to provide the lowest pricing. You will see them usually listed near the end, where the higher prices are.
If one of these deals appears attractive to you, please take one precaution. Click on the “Fact Sheet” for the plan in which you are interested. The energy charge is the only part of the fee that we can choose, you can see that there may be a flat fee in addition to the energy charge. If you use large amounts of electricity routinely (say, over 2000 kwh/month) any flat fee will be diluted by the amount you use and not be as important in the total bill.
How important is the lowest price? If you use 1000 kwh/month, the difference in 1/10th¢/kwh is only $1. So, paying a little bit more usually doesn’t cost too much.
Thoughtful Energy Associate
Enhanced Energy Services of America, LLC