For over 15 years, Texas residents had a choice when it comes to selecting their retail energy provider.  Today, 85% of Texas is deregulated (with only a few cities that are still regulated like Austin, San Antonio, and El Paso).

Why is deregulation beneficial?  Under deregulation, retail electricity providers (REPs) purchase electricity  at wholesale and are able to sell it at a lower price,  while providing price protection and more product plans that support customer needs (ex., Free Weekends) and freedom of choice.

Customers can buy electricity based on price, term, customer ratings, rewards and other options. Energy companies, like Direct Energy provide customers a wide choice of plan options and innovative tools to help you save.

With the power to choose being the main benefit of deregulation, the process to switch electricity providers can get confusing in such a highly competitive market.  Following these few, easy guidelines will simply the process of switching energy providers:

1) Check Your Contract Status: 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. According to the Public Utility Commission, 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 (for most fixed-rate plans).  Most variable-rate plans (month to month) don’t charge early termination fees, so customers on those plans can switch at any time.  You should receive a letter in the mail at least 30 days before your contract expires.

2) Shop and Compare: Texas is a competitive market, so choosing an energy provider that’s right for your household can be challenging.  Our pick is Direct Energy.  With plan options like Free Power Weekends (which provides the most free electricity supply on weekends from 6pm on Fri – 11:59 pm on Sun) you are likely to get a great deal.  Direct Energy customers also benefit from several additional perks such as Plenti®, a rewards program that lets you earn points at one place and use them at another, all with a single card, and energy saving tools like Direct Your Energy.

4) Sign-Up and Confirmation: Once you’ve chosen the retail electricity provider that best suits your needs, just sign up directly from the website. Keep in mind that Texas electricity providers require a credit check, so be prepared to provide your social security number.  Although you may have a decent FICO score – you may have a very low Utility Score and have to pay a deposit. Electricity companies use a TEC (Telecommunications, Energy, and Cable) score, a risk model developed specifically for telecomm and energy accounts, to determine if a deposit is required.  Based on your score, your electricity service deposit may range from $100 to $400.  Many times utilities do not provide payment histories to credit reporting agencies, so find out if your current provider have options (i.e. providing a letter) to show that your previous utility credit is in good standing.

Because there are no credit checks, deposits, or long-term contracts, a prepaid electricity plan is an attractive option for many Texas customers. 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 and/or email telling you how much electricity you’re using and how much remains on your balance.

When you change providers, you’ll be able to indicate the date you want the switch to occur. Look for an email or letter in the mail from your new provider, as well as a postcard from ‘ERCOT’ (Electric Reliability Council of Texas), confirming service with the new supplier.

If you’re moving to a new home, unhappy with the customer service of your current retail electricity supplier, or just want a better rate, all you have to do is switch!  Visit Direct Energy Learning Center if you’d like to learn more about your energy choices in Texas, or if you are looking for some of the best electricity offers , go to www.directenergy.com/texas.

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The Energy Department

From the oil fields of West Texas to the climate change debates in Austin to the wind turbines in the Panhandle, energy is ever-present for Texans. The Energy Department is a collection of stories, tips, and guides on how energy impacts you, your home, and your community. Read more thanks to our sponsor, Direct Energy.