For more than a decade, Texas residents have a choice when it comes to selecting their retail energy provider. This simply means that more than 85% of Texas is deregulated (with only a few cities that are still regulated like Austin, San Antonio, and El Paso). Under deregulation, retail energy providers purchase electricity (and natural gas for regions outside of Texas) at wholesale and are able to sell it at a lower price, while providing price protection and more products that support customer needs and freedom of choice.
The main benefits of deregulation are the ability to choose your energy supplier and shop around for various plans. However, the selection process can get confusing in such a highly competitive market. Many residents struggle to determine whether or not to sign up with a fixed-rate, variable-rate or prepaid plan, in addition to finding plans that have the best price, term, rewards and other options that fit their energy needs. That is why retail electricity providers like Direct Energy and their affiliated brands: Bounce Energy , First Choice Power, and CPL Retail Energy offer a multitude of plans and benefits for customers to select.
To help simplify the process of shopping for electricity plans, here are answers to some common questions about selecting a plan that is right for you:
- How can I switch electricity providers in Texas? Before you switch, you’ll need to determine whether or not you’re bound by a contract with your current provider, and if so, how long you have left to fulfill the term and the cost and/or penalties of early cancellation (if any). You can usually find this information on your bill or by calling your energy provider. Customers can switch providers without facing an early termination fee if they schedule the switch no earlier than 14 days before their current plan expires, according to the Public Utility Commission. When you change providers, you’ll be able to indicate the date you want the switch to occur.
- What is a Fixed-Rate plan? A fixed-rate plan is exactly what it sounds like – you lock in an electricity rate for the term of a contract. The most common term lengths are 6 ,12 , and 24 months. Most fixed-rate plans charge customers an early termination fee if they switch providers before their contract expires, but when you sign up with a fixed-rate plan, you don’t carry the risk of prices that could skyrocket when the seasons change. At the same time, you may miss out on lower prices from a downturn in the energy market. A fixed-rate plan provides price protection from seasonal weather variation, but also shelters you from fluctuating prices if your energy usage is roughly the same month-to-month. If a fixed-rate plan seems like a better option for you, lock in your electricity rate with Direct Energy’s Free Power 100 plan, which provides the most free electricity supply on weekends from 6pm on Fri – 11:59 pm on Sun – the most free weekend hours in Texas!*
- What is a Variable-rate plan? A variable-rate plan means the rate you pay for your electricity may fluctuate from month to month. Energy prices are driven by the market. Price depends on many factors, like weather, demand, fuel prices to generate the electricity, the distribution system and the market. This monthly rate will be based on the current market prices that your energy supplier pays to obtain the electricity it sells to you. Variable-rate plans are flexible because you are not locked into a contract. So, if you find a better deal and want to switch plans or energy providers, you won’t have to pay a penalty. A variable-rate plan might be ideal for you if you like to shop around and keep an eye on prices. Without a contract holding you back, you can easily change to a variable-rate plan like Bright Choice, a month-to-month plan from Direct Energy.
- How does a Prepaid plan work? Prepaid plans provide service on a “pay-as-you-go” basis. Because there are no credit checks, deposits, or long-term contracts, a prepaid electricity plan is an attractive option for many Texas customers. If you are interested in this plan option head over to Power-To-Go by First Choice Power to sign up today! All you have to do is pay for your electricity before you use it. And instead of a bill every month, you’ll receive alerts to your mobile device or email telling you how much electricity you’re using and how much remains on your balance.
If you think you are paying too much for electricity or just want to switch providers, shop and compare retail electricity providers serving your area. To find a list of participating companies and the plans they offer, the Public Utility Commission (PUC) has a website at www.powertochoose.org to help you or call 866-PWR-4-TEX (1-866-797-4839). Once you’ve chosen the retail electricity provider that best suits your needs, just sign up directly from their website.
Our pick is Direct Energy. With plan options like Free Power 100 and Direct-Your-Plan , an electricity plan tailor-made to your lifestyle, you are likely to get a great deal. Direct Energy customers also benefit from customer rewards programs like Refer-A-Friend, energy saving insights from Direct Your Energy and access to home services and home protection plans. Go to www.directenergy.com/texas to find some of the best electricity offers in Texas.
*Most free hours weekend electricity claim as of September 25, 2017 when compared to other retail electric providers offers listed on the powertochoose.org website. Subject to change.