amigo energy

 

Amigo Energy
2650 Fountain View Dr
Houston, TX 77057
Phone : (832) 242-7168
Product & Services:
Electric Companies

 

Yeah, ok, so living in Texas is pretty good 90% of the time. But electric prices are really high right now, at least with TXU, unless you sign up for 24 months of phone abuse and even higher prices, they’ll give you a $25 credit. Wow, let me contain my energy.

Ok, yeah, so this really is off topic, but, the State of Texas has a website for price comparisons. There’s also some sites out there that are popping up to give people “shopping comparisons” which, can you guess, compare only 3 or 4 companies, and can you guess which ones? The ones that charge enough to pay for an advertising budget. Use the state’s website, and you’ll see Amigo Energy is clearly (currently) the winner. Yeah, sounds like their Support line may not speak much English, but hey, neither does TXU’s. ;)

 

 

 

Q. Roddy, please answer a question that I have wanted to ask someone for a long time: What is the "service availability charge"

entry on my monthly CPS Energy bill? It is always the same: $4.25. That's $51 a year!

Multiply $51 by all of the CPS customers, and you come up with a staggering amount of money.

A. According to a statement issued by CPS in response to your question: "The charge covers the cost of the meter and the related costs to read the meter and generate a bill. The charge is common throughout the utility industry. In Texas, CPS Energy and El Paso Electric have the lowest charges. Austin Energy, another municipally owned utility, charges $6 a month." (The highest charge, $7.03, is paid by ratepayers of Amigo Energy in the Corpus Christi area.)

 

Cheers and Jeers — May, 2007

JEER: Texas still has one tax appraisal system for ordinary people and another tax appraisal system for wealthy people. Legislators did a little better job this time by pretending they were debating the subject of mandatory sales price disclosure, but the session is over now and no bill was passed. I wish some young, aggressive lawyer (and a plaintiff with standing) would spend a year or two taking this all the way to the Supreme Court. It seems like a slam dunk when I read the 14th Amendment ... "no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
— Bob Riley, San Antonio

 

JEER: My husband and I are dedicated voters. On Saturday morning we checked the Express-News to verify the location for our precinct, 2009. It was listed as: Braun Oaks Swim Club, 10555 Tezel Road. This has been our location for a number of years. Upon arrival, we found a printed notice saying the location had been moved to Coke Stevens Middle School. Upon arrival at the "new location," I asked the workers how long they had known the location had been moved. They responded, "We did not know it had been moved." There were only the two of us and the workers at the voting site. And they complained about low voter turn-out!
— Margaret Robbins, San Antonio

 

 

 

Re: ADD COMMENT - City of Houston RFP for Consumer Choice Initiative By Javier Antonio Vega - Amigo Energy - Houston, Texa on 2/18/2006 10:35 AM
Clearly firm price commitment is a major issue in making the selection of REP’s. I respectfully offer the following comments to administrators regarding REP selection and the level of firmness that might be communicated to our fellow Houstonians:

1. Administrators might consider a cautious stance in extending the perception of price firmness for Houstonians in light of many REP’s recent history. There is a strong perception that residential customers must be served under the specific provisions of PUCT §25 Customer Protection Rules. Under §25.471(a)(3) controlling applicability of the rule, the Commission specifically states that the option to agree to a higher or lower level of customer protection only belongs to "customer(s) other than residential or small commercial customer(s).” They seem to further clarify their intent in the next paragraph stating that "the rules of this subchapter control over any inconsistent provisions, terms, or conditions of an REP's terms of service or other documents describing service offerings for customers in Texas."

2. §25.475(e) "Notice of Changes in Terms and Conditions of Service" seems to have proven over time any REP's ability to invoke this paragraph to change any term of service (including price commitment) with 45 days notice.

3. While I think it would be interesting (and immeasurably useful if possible) to have this paragraph of the rule set aside for purposes of "firming-up" price commitments, I would respectfully remind administrators of the presence of the paragraph above when communicating price firmness signals in the good name of our city. This paragraph of the rule seems to have been used in the past to allow any REP the right to change price with 45 days notice. While it might make sense to ask that this paragraph be carved out, I would respectfully suggest that administrators of this initiative keep in mind that these types of "out clauses" have been used in the past and do seem exist. It might be good to contact staff at the commission for their perspective on this topic. Respectfully, I do not pretend to be the authority on what the commission intends by this paragraph or the rule. I am sure there are many opinions.

3. In the face of any optionality that might be provided by the rule, administrators might seek the complaint data, lawsuits, etc. in REP track records as a useful indicator of which firms are likely to meet their commitments to hold fixed price. The "investment grade" ability to hold a price does not always translate to an REP management's desire to hold price. There are many smaller firms that have both the ability and the track record of making good on their price commitments.

Respectfully,
Javier Antonio Vega
Vega Resources (Amigo Energy)
Houston, Texas

 

26 Carter St.Clair - Mar 1, 03:55 PM

I’m not sure which insurance rates you are referring to, but in Florida, our homeowner’s insurance was WAY more expensive than here in Houston. And life insurance is about 50% less for similar coverage. I’m also with USAA, and I’m getting better rates on just about everything. As far as power costs, I switched to Amigo Energy last month, and I’m receiving a 10.9 cent per KW rate – lower than the 15.9 cent that TXU charges. Lets see if it holds.

 

I was just reading this article the other day, in case it helps your dilemma...

Light switches on a dime

TERESA McUSIC
The Savvy Consumer

http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/business/16551704.htm

Ten-cent electricity is back in North Texas, but should you buy it?

This month, with electricity now fully deregulated in the state, four of the 17 electric retail providers are charging 10 cents per kilowatt-hour to 10.8 cents. That's 30 percent lower than the highest-priced offers of 16 cents.

Meanwhile, about 845,000 customers in North Texas have switched from TXU to another retail provider, or about 33 percent of the market, according to an October report from the Public Utility Commission.

Should the other 1.72 million start shopping?

Offering the lowest-cost, month-to-month plans are Reliant Energy, StarTex Power and Amigo Energy, all in Houston, and Commerce Energy in Costa Mesa, Calif.

But before racing to sign up, consider that the plans are tied directly to the price of natural gas. About half of Texas' electricity comes from natural gas.

"Natural-gas prices have continued to fall pretty consistently over the last seven months," StarTex CEO Robert Zlotnik said. "Our pricing is the cost of natural gas plus our overhead. As the price of natural gas drops, we pass that savings on to our customers."

The reverse is true as well: If the cost of natural gas rises, so will your electric bill. Customers have to decide whether they can handle the price swings. Two big players, Reliant Energy and Commerce Energy, are also offering low-cost products that track gas prices.

Commerce, which began during California's deregulation and is now in 11 states with 161,000 customers, began offering its 10 cent per kWh residential variable product this month, a spokeswoman said.

Reliant, with 1.9 million customers in Texas, will post its new PowerTracker plan Monday for an initial 10.3 cents, said Matt Benner, senior vice president for retail marketing.

Reliant's new rate is based on a formula using the New York Mercantile Exchange natural-gas futures' contract price and a multiplier that reflects changes in market conditions.

The rate also depends on the customer's electric utility service area.

The new plan isn't for everyone, Benner said.

"Like any adjustable-rate product, you have to have the flexibility and the cash flow to cover it," he said. "The price changes every month, and it can change rather dramatically."

None of these plans has long-term commitments or cancellation fees.

TXU Energy also has a market-tracker plan that follows natural-gas prices. But this product has a 24-month contract and a $200 cancellation fee, and it costs 15 cents a kWh right now. The plan caps its rate and provides protection from short-term spikes.

The regulated "price to beat" rate, gone this month because of deregulation, would have 11.5 cents per kWh based on current natural gas prices of about $7 per million British thermal units, said Clarence Johnson, director of regulatory analysis at the Office of Public Utility Counsel in Austin.

Gas prices are much lower than the historic high of $12 seen after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, he said. So the 10-cent price is a favorable rate, he said.

"People have already experienced gas prices as high as they are going to see for a while," Johnson said. "It's probably unlikely you are going to see prices go that way again, although you can never guarantee anything. Gas prices are extremely volatile."

Because of the volatility, the lack of a minimum term may help consumers, he said.

"If prices get to the point beyond their tolerance level, they could leave the rate," he said.

Carol Biedrzycki, founder of Texas Ratepayers Organization to Save Energy, said changing plans won't appeal to typical consumers.

"It's hard to work up enthusiasm for a rate plan that doesn't offer any stability," she said. "Now you have to add keeping track of natural gas prices along with your kids getting their homework done and finding out what's on special at the grocery store."

Biedrzycki said people tell her that they want stability and predictability in their energy bills.

"I don't think the average consumer wants the hassle of monitoring their electricity providers every month," she said.

A big question now is whether these lower-rate plans will influence the price of longer-term electricity contracts or more costly month-to-month plans.

"If these plans start picking up significant market share, it could have some impact on the pricing premium in other plans," Johnson said. "A lot depends on how competitive the market really is."

To date, the deregulated electric market has not moved prices as much as it should have, he said. Biedrzycki agrees that consumers must pressure the market for lower prices.

"This market has a lot of room to lower prices, but it's just not happening," Biedrzycki said. "It would be nice if someone would just lower prices of a standard service contract."

That may not happen until consumers embrace lower-cost plans in bulk, she said.

"What we're dealing with in a competitive market is that consumers have got to vote with their business on what they like and don't like," Biedrzycki said.

WHO'S OFFERING WHAT

Four electricity sellers are offering a rate of about 10 cents per kWh, but the rate is tied to the price of natural gas and can change quickly. The rate is based on using 1,000 kWh per month.

10.3 cents

Reliant Energy,

866-222-7100,

www.reliantenergy.com. Plan becomes available Monday.

10.4 cents

Commerce Energy, Costa Mesa, Calif.: 877-226-5425,

 www.commerceenergy.com. Includes $4.95 monthly service charge.

10.8 cents

StarTex Power,

866-917-8271,

www.startexpower.com.

10.8 cents

Amigo Energy,

888-469-2644,

www.amigoenergy.com. $6.95 charge for using less than 500 kWh.

SOURCES: Reliant Energy,

Commerce Energy, StarTex Power, Amigo Energy

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Natural-gas prices can be tracked on several Web sites, including www.futuresource.com.

For a good consumer brochure on residential natural gas prices by the Energy Information Administration, part of the Energy Department, go to http://www.eia.doe.gov/neic/brochure/oil_gas/natgas06/natgas.html.

Begin your search for electric retailers at the Public Utility Commission's consumer Web site at www.powertochoose.com.

 

We are buying a house in New Territory (closing Wednesday, God willing) and we have to order electricity. Our agent suggested Direct Energy, which is who she uses, but after reading ZXDavid's thread on getting ripped off by Direct on commercial service http://www.twtex.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15163) I'm not so sure.

So, who is using what providers in the Houston/Sugar Land area? How happy are you?

My wife says not to go with Centerpoint (formerly Reliant) as it is more expensive, but I don't see that it is THAT much more expensive than Direct? We could also go with TXU, or any of a group of lesser known providers.

What does the collective wisdom think?

Thanks,


Lee
bluedogok
01-27-2007, 06:30 PM
The only complaint that I have ever heard about TXU is a gripe about perceived cost, every other provider seems to have complaints about the rates not being what they stated, billing issues and such. I had TXU when I lived in Dallas (TU Electric at the time) back when choice was not available, if we were to move to a choice area (locked into Austin Electric here) TXU would be the one that I would go with.

For me maybe it is a "go with what you know" versus what might be, electricity is one of those things that I would rather not try out.
sherob
01-27-2007, 07:18 PM
I've had TXU since dereg... have been very happy with them. I just couldn't take Reliant(HL&P) rate increases anymore... and don't tell me that Reliant customers don't pay for that name on the stadium :trust:

Centerpoint is the company that manages the poles and lines to your house(delivers the power). They are also the gas company(old Entex).
Tchuck
01-27-2007, 07:25 PM
The best place to compare Retail Electric Providers (REPs) is on the powertochoose.org website. This website is either run or sponsored by Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Deregulated electric power is only available in the ERCOT service area. On this website you put in your zip code and the authorized REPs and their current offers come up. Be sure to read the contract carefully as some contracts allow rates to change monthly, most though will notifiy you one month in advance of rate changes. Also look at cancellation charges, some are zero some are $100 or so.
Texas T
01-27-2007, 08:10 PM
Deregulated electric power is only available in the ERCOT service area. My results...
No Electricity Supplier Alternatives

Your search has found no Electricity supplier alternatives to your current utility at this time.

The Public Utility Commission of Texas has postponed the beginning of retail open access in Southeast Texas indefinitely.
wonder91178
01-27-2007, 08:20 PM
I was just reading this article the other day, in case it helps your dilemma...

Light switches on a dime

TERESA McUSIC
The Savvy Consumer

http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/business/16551704.htm

Ten-cent electricity is back in North Texas, but should you buy it?

This month, with electricity now fully deregulated in the state, four of the 17 electric retail providers are charging 10 cents per kilowatt-hour to 10.8 cents. That's 30 percent lower than the highest-priced offers of 16 cents.

Meanwhile, about 845,000 customers in North Texas have switched from TXU to another retail provider, or about 33 percent of the market, according to an October report from the Public Utility Commission.

Should the other 1.72 million start shopping?

Offering the lowest-cost, month-to-month plans are Reliant Energy, StarTex Power and Amigo Energy, all in Houston, and Commerce Energy in Costa Mesa, Calif.

But before racing to sign up, consider that the plans are tied directly to the price of natural gas. About half of Texas' electricity comes from natural gas.

"Natural-gas prices have continued to fall pretty consistently over the last seven months," StarTex CEO Robert Zlotnik said. "Our pricing is the cost of natural gas plus our overhead. As the price of natural gas drops, we pass that savings on to our customers."

The reverse is true as well: If the cost of natural gas rises, so will your electric bill. Customers have to decide whether they can handle the price swings. Two big players, Reliant Energy and Commerce Energy, are also offering low-cost products that track gas prices.

Commerce, which began during California's deregulation and is now in 11 states with 161,000 customers, began offering its 10 cent per kWh residential variable product this month, a spokeswoman said.

Reliant, with 1.9 million customers in Texas, will post its new PowerTracker plan Monday for an initial 10.3 cents, said Matt Benner, senior vice president for retail marketing.

Reliant's new rate is based on a formula using the New York Mercantile Exchange natural-gas futures' contract price and a multiplier that reflects changes in market conditions.

The rate also depends on the customer's electric utility service area.

The new plan isn't for everyone, Benner said.

"Like any adjustable-rate product, you have to have the flexibility and the cash flow to cover it," he said. "The price changes every month, and it can change rather dramatically."

None of these plans has long-term commitments or cancellation fees.

TXU Energy also has a market-tracker plan that follows natural-gas prices. But this product has a 24-month contract and a $200 cancellation fee, and it costs 15 cents a kWh right now. The plan caps its rate and provides protection from short-term spikes.

The regulated "price to beat" rate, gone this month because of deregulation, would have 11.5 cents per kWh based on current natural gas prices of about $7 per million British thermal units, said Clarence Johnson, director of regulatory analysis at the Office of Public Utility Counsel in Austin.

Gas prices are much lower than the historic high of $12 seen after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, he said. So the 10-cent price is a favorable rate, he said.

"People have already experienced gas prices as high as they are going to see for a while," Johnson said. "It's probably unlikely you are going to see prices go that way again, although you can never guarantee anything. Gas prices are extremely volatile."

Because of the volatility, the lack of a minimum term may help consumers, he said.

"If prices get to the point beyond their tolerance level, they could leave the rate," he said.

Carol Biedrzycki, founder of Texas Ratepayers Organization to Save Energy, said changing plans won't appeal to typical consumers.

"It's hard to work up enthusiasm for a rate plan that doesn't offer any stability," she said. "Now you have to add keeping track of natural gas prices along with your kids getting their homework done and finding out what's on special at the grocery store."

Biedrzycki said people tell her that they want stability and predictability in their energy bills.

"I don't think the average consumer wants the hassle of monitoring their electricity providers every month," she said.

A big question now is whether these lower-rate plans will influence the price of longer-term electricity contracts or more costly month-to-month plans.

"If these plans start picking up significant market share, it could have some impact on the pricing premium in other plans," Johnson said. "A lot depends on how competitive the market really is."

To date, the deregulated electric market has not moved prices as much as it should have, he said. Biedrzycki agrees that consumers must pressure the market for lower prices.

"This market has a lot of room to lower prices, but it's just not happening," Biedrzycki said. "It would be nice if someone would just lower prices of a standard service contract."

That may not happen until consumers embrace lower-cost plans in bulk, she said.

"What we're dealing with in a competitive market is that consumers have got to vote with their business on what they like and don't like," Biedrzycki said.

WHO'S OFFERING WHAT

Four electricity sellers are offering a rate of about 10 cents per kWh, but the rate is tied to the price of natural gas and can change quickly. The rate is based on using 1,000 kWh per month.

10.3 cents

Reliant Energy,

866-222-7100,

www.reliantenergy.com. Plan becomes available Monday.

10.4 cents

Commerce Energy, Costa Mesa, Calif.: 877-226-5425,

 www.commerceenergy.com. Includes $4.95 monthly service charge.

10.8 cents

StarTex Power,

866-917-8271,

www.startexpower.com.

10.8 cents

Amigo Energy,

888-469-2644,

www.amigoenergy.com. $6.95 charge for using less than 500 kWh.

SOURCES: Reliant Energy,

Commerce Energy, StarTex Power, Amigo Energy

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Natural-gas prices can be tracked on several Web sites, including www.futuresource.com.

For a good consumer brochure on residential natural gas prices by the Energy Information Administration, part of the Energy Department, go to http://www.eia.doe.gov/neic/brochure/oil_gas/natgas06/natgas.html.

Begin your search for electric retailers at the Public Utility Commission's consumer Web site at www.powertochoose.com.
sherob
01-27-2007, 08:21 PM
If Entergy/Gulf States is your carrier, then you are SOL. If Centerpoint is your carrier, you have options.

They are working on integrating Entergy/Gulf States into ERCOT.
rfwjr
01-27-2007, 08:50 PM
I have been with Gexa for about 6 months, they were cheaper than Centerpoint and I get 2 Continental One Pass miles for each dollar I spend. I have not had any problems with them at this point.
leekellerking
01-29-2007, 10:02 AM
I have a question for the group mind. :zen:


We are buying a house in New Territory (closing Wednesday, God willing) and we have to order electricity.
Lee

In the interests of simplicity (and reducing my wife's work load) we have decided to go with Direct Energy. Thanks for all your input. It was appreciated.


God bless,

Lee
Faylaricia
01-29-2007, 10:19 AM
I use Green Mountain. Not the cheapest but compared to others, still competetive and it is environmentally friendly. I have had it for years and never had a problem once, not the slightest.
Jack Giesecke
01-29-2007, 10:28 AM
www.dynowatt.com Saved me about 100 bucks a month last summer. I was on CPL for years, had no other choice. Far as I know, these companies get their power from the grid, so how can any of 'em claim to be "environmentally friendly?" Maybe our resident power company employees can answer this one, not that I really care. My Scot/German genes make me look at the bill, not the trees. :rolleyes: Anyway, if a big business tells me they're "environmentally friendly", my BS flags go up. If you're a business, you watch the bottom line, profits are king all BS aside or you don't stay in business. If it costs less to be "green", sure, but that is rarely the case.
Eulogite
01-29-2007, 11:03 AM
The best place to compare Retail Electric Providers (REPs) is on the powertochoose.org website. This website is either run or sponsored by Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Deregulated electric power is only available in the ERCOT service area. On this website you put in your zip code and the authorized REPs and their current offers come up. Be sure to read the contract carefully as some contracts allow rates to change monthly, most though will notifiy you one month in advance of rate changes. Also look at cancellation charges, some are zero some are $100 or so.

:clap: You are either in the business or a very wise consumer. :clap:

Senate bill 7 forbids me from participating in this poll.
Faylaricia
01-29-2007, 11:05 AM
Far as I know, these companies get their power from the grid, so how can any of 'em claim to be "environmentally friendly?" Maybe our resident power company employees can answer this one, not that I really care. My Scot/German genes make me look at the bill, not the trees. :rolleyes:

GreenMountain is a BP company and they use windpower. Also, may check your German genes, lately, Germans have become extremely environmentally friendly. :trust:
bluedogok
01-29-2007, 11:18 AM
As posted above, the "Green Energy" is from renewable sources such as wind or solar of which wind being the most common in Texas. I really don't know of any providing solar here for large scale use. Therefore the power that they provide to the grid is "Green Energy" just like TXU and others provide power to the grid from either coal-fired, natural-gas fired, hydroelectric or nuclear sources. So while it may be true that someone using a "green provider" isn't actually using "green power" per se, their use goes against the credits of their provider to the grid. In Patricia's case that is Green Mountain so in effect she is using the credits they provide and it is therefore "green power".

At least that is how I understand that system working......
Faylaricia
01-29-2007, 11:26 AM
As posted above, the "Green Energy" is from renewable sources such as wind or solar of which wind being the most common in Texas. I really don't know of any providing solar here for large scale use. Therefore the power that they provide to the grid is "Green Energy" just like TXU and others provide power to the grid from either coal-fired, natural-gas fired, hydroelectric or nuclear sources. So while it may be true that someone using a "green provider" isn't actually using "green power" per se, their use goes against the credits of their provider to the grid. In Patricia's case that is Green Mountain so in effect she is using the credits they provide and it is therefore "green power".

At least that is how I understand that system working......

From what I understand, they funnel the energy from their powerplant into the regular grid via contracts with the local grid provider. Here is a listing of where the energy is produced. http://www.greenmountain.com/about/facilities/index.jsp
Eulogite
01-29-2007, 11:36 AM
Actually, Faylaricia's wind-generated electrons contain a "genetic" code that sends them directly to her meter.
Fbronco86
01-30-2007, 12:55 PM
TXU is supposed to be the cheapest from what I hear. I just got a new casa and signed up with TXU.
mhutch
01-30-2007, 01:26 PM
I use green mountain. a few extra bucks and it balances my conscience with my 14 mpg suv.
igo-wfo
01-30-2007, 01:27 PM
A friend switched to Reliant, they created 2 accounts for her, could not delete one of them, and promptly shut her power off yesterday at 4 P.M.
Did not get it back on until about noon today.

And she is current on her account(s).
All this after speaking to several CSRs and SIX supervisors.

This is in addition to our experiences with them that pretty much parallel the above.

They may be cheap, but no way in..well, you know... would I even consider them until they get their customer service/billing problems solved.

We are with TXU, but are shopping around.
Tchuck
01-30-2007, 06:36 PM
You are either in the business or a very wise consumer.

Part of my job at one time was to keep up with electrical deregulation and eventually secure deregulated contracts for electrical power for the company.

Only ERCOT which is entirely in Texas is deregulated. ERCOT is totally controlled by the Public Utility Commission of Texas. Other areas like the Woodlands and Huntsville are not in ERCOT, they are in one of the interstate FERC (Federal Electrical Regulatory Commission) controlled by Uncle Sam. I've not kept up with FERC in a few years, but I doubt any of the FERC areas around Texas are deregulated yet.

If you are in an electric cooperative in the ERCOT region your coop can opt out of deregulation. In 2001 all the coops opted out.

Regarding your electrical supplier, called a REP (retail electric supplier), they put into the grid to equal what they sell. If you buy Green Mountain power, then Green Mountain supplies the electrical grid with the power that you consumed.

I'm stretching my memory, but about half of the electrical power in ERCOT is natural gas the remainder nuclear and coal. Gas at its current price has the highest cost of power generation, but is the quickest to build and lowest relative capital cost. Electrical power costs in ERCOT tend to follow natural gas pricing with some lag on going up and coming down.

My suggestion is if you are in ERCOT, buy the cheapest with no cancellation costs and fixed pricing for some term. If you are not in ERCOT, you have no choices in Texas
Jack Giesecke
01-30-2007, 06:41 PM
GreenMountain is a BP company and they use windpower. Also, may check your German genes, lately, Germans have become extremely environmentally friendly. :trust:

Mine are old school, and you mix in Scotish blood, well, good thing I'm not Jewish is all I gotta say....:rofl: Think I ride that little 80 mpg 200 around all the time to save the whales??? Guess again. :rofl:
Eulogite
01-30-2007, 07:19 PM
I like the gas tracker rates, currently $.103/kwh. It will fluctuate with the price of natgas, but there's no contract and you can bail anytime. Of course, actually getting your account to change could take six weeks. Still, the rate right now is saving 33%.
DFW_Warrior
01-30-2007, 07:39 PM
Weird, I switched from TXU to Reliant and I have saved money every month so far. I think I'll just stick with them until they give me a reason to want to go somewhere else.
ST/SV
01-30-2007, 08:16 PM
Like Sherob stated earlier on in the posting, Centerpoint is not a provider here in Houston, Centerpoint actually broke away from Reliant during deregulation about 5 years ago, They are separate companies with no ties anymore. Reliant and all the rest of the providers are running power thru Centerpoints lines. I've worked for HL&P-Reliant-Centerpoint for 36 years. Even after 5 years of dereg., Almost every day I talk to someone on the job and they will have something to say about the light bill they got from Centerpoint and I have to correct them that they are not getting a light bill from us. The poll is wrong. It should not say Centerpoint, It should say Reliant. The only bill you would be getting from Centerpoint is a natural gas bill.
lddave
02-02-2007, 06:59 PM
ST/SV is right about Centerpoint.
Reliant only produces locally a small amount ( couple of hundred megawatts) of the power it sells here.
Keep buying power no matter from who, it is good for me, I work at the largest fossil fueled generating station in the U.S.(3671 megawatts) which is located near Houston.
Texas T
02-02-2007, 09:26 PM
I wonder if I can convince my employer to sell to the employees at a discounted rate?
http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/bus/stories/012807dnbuswalmart.14c8bed.html

 

Post Date: 2006-12-24 20:17:38 by DUB
3 Comments

Irate constituents are prompting lawmakers - even supporters of deregulation - to take another look at the law By R.A. DYER STAR-TELEGRAM AUSTIN BUREAU

AUSTIN -- At the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31, Texas passes its last major electric deregulation milestone. That's when the law changes, giving TXU, Houston's Reliant Energy and the state's other legacy electric companies free rein to adjust basic rates without first going to regulators.

Under the theory of electric deregulation, market forces will keep a lid on prices.

But seven years after its passage, policymakers, analysts and advocates say the state's electric-competition law isn't working as envisioned. The market hasn't fully developed and home electricity bills have risen dramatically, rather than fallen as promised. And now, regulators and industry officials say, an energy shortfall looms.

If the end of regulated pricing doesn't bring competitive pricing quickly, it is likely the 80th Texas Legislature will take action.

"If you had real competition, then prices will go down to the margins -- but we don't have real competition," state Rep. Phil King said recently. He's the Weatherford Republican with primary responsibility for electric issues in the Texas House.

"We're going to try to find a way to bring down electric bills," he said. "We've got to make some substantial changes."

Now that all the components of the 1999 deregulation law are essentially in place, what now? Will prices fall? What, if anything, has gone right? And why are Texans -- as consumer groups contend -- paying too much for electricity?

Lawmakers, industry representatives and consumer groups predict that these questions will become among the most pressing for the Legislature when it convenes Jan. 9. AARP Texas has said electricity prices will be its No. 1 lobbying issue.

The end of the so-called price to beat marks a symbolic jumping-off point for the debate. After that, many of the state's residential ratepayers will have only the marketplace in which to place their trust.

What's not working

In the Texas House of Representatives, lawmakers are fielding calls from constituents.

"There has been insufficient participation of lower-cost providers. Unfortunately, we have not seen the Southwest Airlines of the electric industry," former state Rep. Steve Wolens said, practically sputtering. "We haven't seen somebody come in with these deep discounts."

"There are many, many issues," he said. "There are a ton of issues. You have to make sure there is no market manipulation. ... You can't let there be gaming. You can't let there be round-trip trading."

Wolens, a Dallas Democrat, is one of the co-authors of the deregulation law. He also counts himself among those who say it's not working the way it should.

The bottom line for anybody who pays an electric bill is that deregulation has failed to create the savings he and other lawmakers predicted, Wolens said.

Adopted in 1999, the law requires TXU, Reliant and the state's other legacy electric providers to charge the price to beat, which is a rate overseen by the Public Utility Commission. Lawmakers agreed to set the rate high enough so competitors could come in with lower rates.

The law likewise stipulated that beginning in 2005, legacy providers could offer alternative rate deals, as long as they still offered the regulated price to beat for customers who wanted it. After Dec. 31, TXU, Reliant and other legacy providers will be able to raise -- or lower -- residential rates without almost any regulatory intervention.

It's the price-to-beat provision that has caused the biggest headaches -- and is part of the reason why rates are so high going into this last stage of deregulation, Wolens said. In an "oversight," the Legislature created a mechanism allowing companies to adjust the price to beat upward when the cost of natural gas went up but didn't create a parallel mechanism to force it back down when natural gas prices declined.

As a result, the price to beat charged by TXU in North Texas reflects the record natural gas prices after the supply disruptions caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. And as the price to beat has remained high, so have the prices of TXU's competitors, Wolens said. He also said the market remains too "sticky," meaning too many customers have stuck with legacy providers like TXU, despite lower prices elsewhere.

"There has been insufficient participation by consumers to lower costs ... and the reason for that is there hasn't been enough education," Wolens said. He notes that since the adoption of the law, the Legislature has cut off funds for television and newspaper marketing designed to explain how deregulation works.

There have been other problems as well. TXU controls such an overwhelming share of generation capacity in North Texas that it can control wholesale prices. Some question whether lawmakers should have included greater safeguards against such dominance when they wrote the law -- or whether they should add new ones now.

Lining up sides

"There are going to be some good fireworks," said political analyst Harvey Kronberg, editor of the online Quorum Report. "The lobby may be able to mitigate some of the more serious things the Legislature could do, but this is not going to be swept under the rug. ... I think this has been strongly simmering for a while, but just below the radar."

Kronberg's point is this: There are plenty of irate ratepayers out there, but there are also traditional power companies, new competitors and the manufacturing interests. There are municipalities and small commercial users. There are environmentalists. And each of these influential groups will want to stake its ground on the deregulation issue when lawmakers return to Austin next month. "There's a lot of heat with this issue," Kronberg said.

Some of the proposals that probably will be floated during the 140-day session include those that create new controls over wholesale generation, those that allow municipalities to negotiate deals on behalf of large blocks of customers and those that create a new regulated price for electricity. Although lawmakers almost certainly will reject expected legislation that would totally re-regulate the market, many of the other legislative proposals have industry representatives popping antacid pills.

A spokeswoman for TXU has said the law is working and cautioned against making dramatic changes. The president of an industry umbrella group, the Association of Electric Companies of Texas, has taken a similar stance -- although he noted that it's prudent for lawmakers to consider all options.

"But you've got to be careful about what you do," said John Fainter, the association's president. "We think that we have a well-designed market, and we think that generally it is working. ... You have people who are investing in the market and who are prepared to invest in the market, and you want to make sure that you don't do anything to upset that."

He said Texans can get good deals if they shop around, that residential customers now have over a dozen providers to choose from and that the lowest competitive electric prices in Texas have decreased by 15 percent over the past year. He discounted recent reports showing that Texans pay less in regulated areas than they pay in deregulated areas, saying such price differences have long been the case, particularly because municipal systems are not taxed and rural cooperatives enjoy substantial tax benefits.

His organization, TXU, Reliant and other electric companies will entrench a team of lobbyists in Austin to make sure that lawmakers hear that message. A recent report by the Citizens for Public Justice described the industry as one of the most powerful special interests in Austin, with TXU second only to AT&T in the number of lobby contracts.

State Sen. Troy Fraser, the Horseshoe Bay Republican who heads the committee with oversight authority on deregulation, and his House counterpart, King, have historically been resistant to making dramatic changes to the deregulation law.

But given the phone calls from irate constituents, Fraser and King said this year might be different. Fraser recently publicly upbraided TXU Chairman John Wilder, saying the company was "abusing" its customers by maintaining an unfairly high price to beat while simultaneously making more than $1 billion in profit.

"I think everything will be considered. ... We have to address why the market is not responding," Fraser said.

Tim Morstad, an analyst with AARP, also said that electric deregulation will be the organization's No. 1 issue. Officials with the senior citizens' advocacy group have promised to use "people power" to counter the message of well-financed lobby teams.

With the expiration of the price to beat, "Texans in deregulated areas, already paying 80 percent more on average than they did in 2002, will be even more vulnerable to the whims of electric providers to hike rates and pad their profits," Morstad said.

The wild cards in all this are the 17 proposed coal-fired plants that TXU and other electric companies want to build. A recent report from the Texas Association of Business said that reserve margins for electricity could drop to inadequate levels by 2008. The association based its analysis on data from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the industry consortium that operates the power grid.

"Texas faces a looming crisis -- and we should and must deal with it today," TAB President Bill Hammond said. R.A. Dyer, 512-476-4294 rdyer@star-telegram.com

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1. To: All (#0)

Sorry, good for nothing Texas politicians.

DUB posted on 2006-12-24 20:19:04 ET Reply Trace
2. To: All (#0)

Common questions about deregulation STAR-TELEGRAM

Q: What is electric deregulation?

A: Under electric deregulation, power companies can compete for customers. The state deregulated its wholesale electric markets in 1995, meaning that power-generating companies and marketers received authority to set their own wholesale prices on sales to other electric utilities. In 2002, the state began the transition to full retail competition, meaning that residential customers in most areas could buy electricity from companies other than their historical utility. In theory, competition should keep down prices.

Q: How has the retail electric-deregulation law affected the setting of electric rates?

A: During the transition, basic rates charged by the state's big legacy providers have been frozen. However, those legacy providers were able to obtain adjustments on those rates to reflect changes in the price of natural gas. This semiregulated rate is known as the "price to beat." Electrical utility competitors were expected to steal some customers with lower prices.

Q: Which residential customers can participate in deregulation?

A: According to information on the Texas Public Utility Commission's Web site, customers who can participate in deregulation are generally those who do not live in an area served by a municipal system or a rural electric cooperative. Some residential customers of utilities in the far reaches of the state -- for example, customers of El Paso Electric -- remain under a regulated system. Municipally owned utilities and cooperatives have the right to opt into the system, but almost none have done so.

Q: What has stayed the same under deregulation?

A: The Public Utility Commission still regulates the transmission and distribution of electricity. That is, the "local wires company" -- in the case of North Texas, a division of TXU -- responds to service interruptions, no matter which electricity provider you choose. The wires company maintains poles and wires.

Q: If rates were frozen, why did my electric bill continue to rise?

A: Under the deregulation law, electric providers could adjust the "price to beat" to reflect changes in the price of natural gas. The companies use natural gas to fuel some -- but not all -- of their generating plants. The law, however, does not allow the PUC to lower rates when natural gas prices go down.

TXU, Reliant and other legacy providers have used the law to charge high rates that reflected the record-high natural gas prices immediately after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. They have not lowered rates to reflect steep declines in the price of natural gas later.

Q: Do I have to switch from my current utility?

A: No.

Q: What if my electric provider unexpectedly goes out of business? Will I be left in the dark?

A: No. Under the law, the so-called provider of last resort serves customers who can't get service elsewhere. However, that utility charges relatively high rates.

Q: I'm not sure what to look for when trying to select an electric provider. Do you have any advice?

A: For information about providers, go to the Power to Choose Web site, www.powertochoose.com. You can also call the Public Utility Commission toll-free customer line, 866-PWR 4 TEX (866-797-4839).

Service problems?

AARP offers these steps:

1. Call the electrical utility and ask questions.

2. Contact the PUC at 888-782-8477.

3. File a complaint.

4. Send a copy to your state representative and state senator.

Shopping for electricity

AARP offers these shopping tips:

Take nothing for granted. Double-check the terms of service agreement before saying yes.

Check the rate, the minimum time the rate must be in effect, penalties and extra fees charged by the electricity provider.

You have three days to rescind the agreement. Use this right if you think that you may have made a mistake.

Be careful signing up with small startup companies. Some go out of business, and the customer ends up with the high rate charged by the provider of last resort.

DUB posted on 2006-12-24 20:21:37 ET Reply Trace
3. To: All (#0)

Who are the new retailers?

By Dan Piller Star-Telegram Staff Writer

When the first stage of electrical utility deregulation began in Texas five years ago, many predicted that the dozen or so new independent competitors to TXU would be winnowed to three or four by the time the price to beat expires Jan. 1.

Instead, new providers have popped up at a surprising rate. North Texans now can choose from 16 other providers if they don't want to buy their electricity from TXU Electric.

TXU Energy, Dallas: The retail electrical subsidiary of the longtime utility that serves Dallas-Fort Worth, TXU Energy has seen its share of the residential market drop from about 2.2 million homes in 2002 to a little more than 1.7 million homes at the end of 2006. The end of TXU's "price to beat" means that TXU now can compete freely on price and terms with its rivals. TXU Electric is owned by TXU Corp., which also owns the power-generation and transmission systems that serve Dallas-Fort Worth.

Ambit Energy, Dallas: Ambit was organized by Jere W. Thompson Jr., founder and former chief executive of CapRock Fiber Networks. Ambit markets itself through individuals who conduct direct marketing.

Amigo Energy, Houston: Amigo is a Hispanic-managed firm led by Javier Antonio Vega, who formerly worked for Reliant Energy and CapTrades Inc.

Cirro Energy, Richardson: Cirro is managed by several former executives of CapRock Communications, the telecommunications company.

Commerce Energy, Orange County, Calif.: Commerce was organized in 1997 to participate in California's deregulated market. It operates in Texas and eight other states.

Direct Energy, Houston: A subsidiary of the British utility Centrica, Direct Energy operates in Texas and six other states, mostly in the Northeast, and also has operations in Canada. Direct Energy says it is the third-largest electricity provider in Texas. The company uses direct marketing and call centers, plus mass-media advertising.

Dynowatt, Houston: Dynowatt is affiliated with Accent Energy, an independent natural gas marketing company. The company also operates in New York and California.

ECONnergy, Spring Valley, N.Y.: Ten-year-old ECONnergy serves Texas, New Jersey, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Its local office is in Southlake.

First Choice Power, Fort Worth: First Choice is the former Texas-New Mexico Power Co., which was bought in 2003 by PNM Resources, New Mexico's largest utility, based in Albuquerque.

Gexa Energy, Houston: Gexa was formed in 2002 to participate in Texas' deregulated market. Two years later, it was bought by FPL Group, part of Florida Power & Light.

Green Mountain Energy, Austin: Green Mountain is the all-green alternative offering wind, solar, water, geothermal, biomass and natural-gas-powered energy. Founded in 1997 in Vermont, Green Mountain got a big financial boost with a $150 million investment from Dallas billionaire Sam Wyly in 2001.

National Power Co., Houston: A privately held company based in Houston, National Power Co. began operating in April 2005.

Reliant Energy, Houston: The former Houston Power & Lighting utility still provides electricity service to 1.6 million Houston-area customers. Reliant is the second-largest provider in Texas. The company says the majority of its 500,000 customers outside of Houston are in Dallas-Fort Worth. Reliant is best known for its "Tom" commercials and billboards.

Spark Energy, Houston: Houston-based Spark Energy also competes in New York.

StarTex Power, Houston: This privately owned electricity provider's executives include several former executives of Gexa, another Houston-based provider.

Stream Energy, Dallas: Stream uses multilevel marketing through independent sales agents, who use the telephone and door-to-door contacts to make sales.

Texas Power, Arlington: Texas Power is affiliated with Mid-States Energy of Arlington, which buys natural gas from producers in Texas and the Southwest and sells it to commercial and utility customers. The company promotes its "Texas Style" service and touts its Texas ownership and roots. It uses billboard, print and radio ads.

 

GP&L Rate Cheapest in the Metroplex  - 

Categories: News  - 

  @

12:13:35 pm

Electric bills are high, mostly because of high fuel costs. Garland residents are supplied with electricity either by GP&L (85%) or TXU Delivery (15%). Those within the TXU Service Area can choose any of several retailers.

The Council and staff have set as their goal that GP&L be cheaper than TXU's Price-to-Beat.

While there is controversy as to whether GP&L could or should be cheaper than it is,

GP&L customers are currently enjoying the lowest rate in the Metroplex for 1500 kwh's of usage.

Reliant Renewable   $243.00
Green Mtn Energy   $239.40
TXU Energy Wise   $235.50
Comm Energy Variable   $234.90
TXU Freedom Plan   $228.00
TXU Price-to-Beat   $227.85
Econoenergy TexFlex   $226.50
TXU Price Guarantee   $226.20
National Power Co. VR   $222.00
Green Mtn Reliable   $220.50
Green Mtn Pollution Free   $219.45
StarTex Power   $219.00
TXU Earthwise   $217.50
Reliant Guar. Savings   $216.00
Amigo Energy   $215.10
National Power Fixed   $211.50
Stream Energy Fixed   $211.08
Stream Energy-Mth   $211.06
TXU Summer Savings   $205.20
Cirro Residential   $202.50
Texas Power Star Treat   $201.00
Direct Energy   $199.50
GEXA Power Plan   $198.00
Dynowatt   $195.00
Garland Power &Light   $193.95

Not shown on this chart is First Choice Power. When the chart was prepared,

they had the lowest price at $193.50 but have reportedly since risen to the fourth highest.

 

Hi everyone, I think I finally have time to do this again. I have made a google group for it at: http://groups-beta.google.com/group/power-group-buy

but if it is easier, you can just contact me through email: power-group-buy@googlegroups.com

I should already have quite a few people in, but tell your friends etc...

 Last time people tended not to decided they wanted it until we got the our rate and were pulling the trigger so it was too late (hence, I am doing it again).

Either who, ask anything I didn't cover. I'm seepy so I prolly missed something.


I just realized I put this long rambling thing without any cliff's notes. Again, sorry, tired.

basically:

1) you send me your ESID from your electric bill
2) I compile these and give them to StarTex
3) They give us a price for that size and we decide if that is good.
4) if you want you will fill out a form, fax or mail it in, and badda bing, your done.

Below is a copy paste from the google group I made. Sorry about anyconfuseion.



[edit2] I should also mention that I don't work for StarTex etc... [/etc]


All,

It is time for round two of the Power group buy!

Results last time:
We had probably 15 people or so (along with two small businesses) and
ended up with 10.3 cents a kwh +tdsp (paying for the transmission
lines) which is about 3.5 cents. This is 13.8 cents which is well below
what the best rate going was at that time. When we were getting all the
paperwork done last time, there were quite a few people, friends of
friends, family etc... who heard about it at the last moment who got
left out. I told them at the time that if all went well I would do a
second round.

Well, the bills have started to flow in and all is as expected.

Goal:
I spoke with the guy at StarTex whom I know, and asked him if we could
get better if I got more people lined up (more load) and he said
absolutely. So my goal is to get as many people as possible together to
get volume price for our electric bill.

Obviously, I am not a power company, I am just organizing the
ordeal. The company is StarTex power. I have used them for better than
2
years now and have yet to have a single issue. The bill I get each
month is straight forward and simple, and don't have all the dumb
nickel and dime fees that my previous companies had (although to be
honest, I haven't seen a bill from another company in a few years, they
may have cleaned up some.

Further, since I now know some people who are also on it, they have
independently confirmed that when they have called with questions etc..
the people on the other end are more than helpful.

I don't want anyone to think that because I have been so careful there
is a reason to worry. I would just feel bad if anyone had a bad
experience on this. I have been diligent beyond what I think is
reasonable.

If you have never changed power companies before, it is a non issue.
You will be supplied by the same power lines etc.. you will receive the
exact same service as before. The only difference you will most likely
see is your (smaller) bill showing up from a different company.

How it will work:

1) Most people in Texas have an ESID which will be somewhere on your
power bill. If you, you are eligible. I will need the ESID, Your First
and Last Name, and your email address you want to correspond with from
you by Dec 6 (I may move this forward if we get enough people on board quickly enough)! Please do not wait until the last moment, as I will need
to put all these together to send etc..

2) I compile all of these numbers and give them to StarTex, THIS DOES
NOT SIGN YOU UP FOR ANYTHING, this is only so that they can go and pull
your load history so they know how much volume you have used in the
past (if we are going to ask for a quantity discount, they need to know
how much quantity)

3) StarTex will then give us a look at what price they are willing to
do. Last time, at this point, StarTex spat out a number for what you
would have been charged from StarTex last year vs. what you would have
been charged from Reliant. I will probably be able to get that again,
but that is fairly easy math so you should be able to do it yourself.

4) At this point we can do one of two things: If the price isn't as
great as anticipated, we can hold off a bit longer and recruit more
people, or StarTex (or probably me since I will already have all of
your emails etc...) will send you out a form that you can print and fax
or snail mail to StarTex. THIS is what signs you up.

5) This is the worst part, it seems like it takes forever (I will try
to check up on exactly how long) to get switched over. I believe this
is because there is a fee you have to pay Texas to expedite it, but
rather than pass that on or eat it, StarTex just lets it go as is.

So jump on board, there isn't a commitment until you sign and fax, so
kraemer007
11-06-2006, 10:55 PM
This sounds interesting, what about a "solar panel" group buy?
Dadgumit
11-06-2006, 11:03 PM
two problems there, I don't know anyone in the solar panel industry, and that is more work than I am willing to do for a lower utility bill.
Ulrich
11-07-2006, 12:42 AM
Let me see if I can find an old bill...
cdelena
11-07-2006, 10:03 AM
StarTex is currently the lowest provider with two plans just over 12 cents a KWH. Now that they are selling state wide does the group buy offer much savings?

BTW, this whole electricity deregulation in Texas has been a sham IMO. There does not seem to be an incentive for low prices out of the power producers so we just have a bunch of resellers competing for low margin. All the surrounding states (and most of the country) have lower retail rates. Since the Texas grid is isolated I am afraid deregulation cannot pay off for the consumer here.
Dadgumit
11-07-2006, 11:05 AM
StarTex is currently the lowest provider with two plans just over 12 cents a KWH. Now that they are selling state wide does the group buy offer much savings?

BTW, this whole electricity deregulation in Texas has been a sham IMO. There does not seem to be an incentive for low prices out of the power producers so we just have a bunch of resellers competing for low margin. All the surrounding states (and most of the country) have lower retail rates. Since the Texas grid is isolated I am afraid deregulation cannot pay off for the consumer here.


1) Yeah, I am checking but I am sure we can get below whatever the "walk in the door" rate is. We were a great deal cheaper than the "walk in the door" rate last time we did this. Besides, it isn't like it costs you anything to see the price.


2) Concerning your second point, power plants are gigantic investments. It takes time for companies to make the decision much less put steal in the ground. I know that there are a few coal projects in the pipe, and at least one wind farm comming on line soon. I am sure there are more than that, I don't have access to that data anymore, but that is two examples of cheap power (coal and wind are both cheap) comming online. I don't know how much you know about wholesale power but those coal units alone will bring the market down. Main point is, things take time, you don't just deregulate and BOOM cheap power.

And as far as ERCOT not being connected to the east grid, that is both untrue and not a bad thing. We have several DC ties that can flow power to and from the east grid. And as far as reliability it has worked for us much more often than against.

I would like to keep this thread on topic though please, would be more than happy to discuss it in another thread if you open it.
Dadgumit
11-07-2006, 11:06 AM
oh and one more point, wouldn't see a group buy happening if the market was regulated.
cdelena
11-07-2006, 12:36 PM
Concerning your second point, power plants are gigantic investments.

OK I won't persue this but since you followed up, there are 38 states that manage lower rates, here is the latest...


Average Revenue per Kilowatthour by State
(Lowest to Highest Rate as of July 2006)

Rank State Average Electricity Rate for
All Sectors
(Cents per Kilowatthour)
1 Idaho 4.81
2 West Virginia 5.05
3 Wyoming 5.30
4 Washington 5.72
5 Kentucky 6.11
6 Oregon 6.25
7 North Dakota 6.42
8 Utah 6.65
9 Indiana 6.68
10 Nebraska 6.77
11 Montana 6.83
12 Virginia 7.12
13 Tennessee 7.28
14 South Dakota 7.30
15 Arkansas 7.39
16 South Carolina 7.39
17 New Mexico 7.43
18 Missouri 7.44
19 Oklahoma 7.70
20 Alabama 7.72
21 Colorado 7.72
22 Kansas 7.76
23 Iowa 7.82
24 North Carolina 7.86
25 Illinois 7.90
26 Minnesota 7.99
27 Ohio 8.09
28 Louisiana 8.32
29 Georgia 8.36
30 Mississippi 8.36
31 Wisconsin 8.53
32 Michigan 8.82
33 Arizona 8.88
34 Pennsylvania 9.10
National Average 9.48
35 Nevada 10.24
36 Maine 10.39
37 Florida 10.44
38 Maryland 10.72
39 Texas 10.83
40 Delaware 11.16
41 Vermont 11.65
42 District of Columbia 12.39
43 New Hampshire 13.16
44 Alaska 13.25
45 Rhode Island 13.89
46 New Jersey 13.95
47 Connecticut 14.70
48 New York 14.75
49 Massachusetts 15.36
50 California 15.41
51 Hawaii 21.90

I just switched but it is month to month.. I will forward my ESID.
Dadgumit
11-07-2006, 07:49 PM
I responded here:

http://www.s2kca.com/forums/showthread.php?p=141523#post141523

:)
Coop
11-07-2006, 10:11 PM
got my bill today, let me look at it
Dadgumit
11-08-2006, 02:39 PM
updated original post.
Ulrich
11-19-2006, 11:54 AM
Nov. 19, 2006, 2:31AM
Many have switched companies looking for lower rates, but inertia or ignorance has kept some paying top dollar
By TOM FOWLER
Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

Karen Green expected some changes when she and her husband moved from Mississippi to Houston last February, but she wasn't prepared for a near-tripling of her electric bill.

Granted, her new house was twice the size of the old one, but that didn't seem to justify the bills that nearly reached $500 this summer.

Once she realized Texas was one of the few parts of the country with a deregulated retail power market, Green exercised her power to choose, dropping Reliant Energy for one of the many other retailers offering competitive prices in her neighborhood.

Her rates went down significantly, nearly 20 percent, she said, but the customer service experience has been less than stellar.

"If I had to deal with their customer service on a regular basis, I would change again," Green said of her new provider. "But the price is better."

Green is just one of the 1.8 million Texans who have switched from the incumbent power provider in their region since Texas opened its retail electric markets to competition in 2002, according to Texas' Public Utility Commission. That's equal to 34 percent of all customers who have a choice.

Another 844,000 customers, or 16 percent, are still with the incumbent, such as Reliant in the Houston area and TXU Energy in Dallas, but on alternative plans.

That means 2.7 million continue to pay the default rate offered in their area, which is usually the highest, by choice, ignorance or inertia.

"Choice requires a customer to take action in ways they didn't need to under regulation," said Steve Davis, president of the Alliance of Retail Marketers, an advocacy group formed by seven independent power retailers in Texas. "Getting someone to take the first step and look into switching is the hardest part. But there are rewards if action is taken."

Customers will likely see even more choices in the coming months as the last vestiges of regulation — the so-called "price-to-beat" rate that nearly 50 percent of all customers are still on and competitors use as a benchmark to set their rates — goes away on Jan. 1. The stream of print, radio and television ads is expected to rise into the new year, power retailers say.

'A lot more shopping'
The level of customer switching has picked up significantly in the last six months, said Bobby Bragg, senior vice president of sales and business development for Whitefence, a Houston company that owns the power shopping site www.ElectricityTexas.com.

"There's certainly a lot more shopping going on since the higher prices we saw this summer," Bragg said.

Companies are trying to give consumers even more reason to switch — or not to switch for current customers — unfurling new pricing plans and advertising campaigns throughout the state.

"You'll see us being aggressive throughout the rest of the year and well into next year," TXU spokeswoman Sophia Stoller said. "Not only are we trying to hold on to all our customers in North Texas, but we want to take away all of Reliant's customers."

Reliant has been trying to move many of its price-to-beat customers to other plans, particularly the 2007 Secure Plan that locks in a rate that is 6 percent below the price to beat for the next year.

"Price is certainly one element of what customers are looking for, but so is price certainty," said Glen Stancil, vice president of residential marketing for Reliant.

Reliant said it will likely have new offers in the coming months and has even launched a new 100 percent wind-power plan that it is only promoting via its Web site.

Gexa Energy has also offered new plans recently, including a 12.9 cents per kilowatt-hour plan in the Houston area it calls the "Best in Texas," but its marketing efforts have been low-key, so far mainly using direct mail.

To switch or not to switch?
Whether it makes sense for customers to switch plans depends upon their current plans and what they hope to achieve with their new plans.

Customers still on the former monopoly companies' price-to-beat plans can easily find several that will cost less. In Houston, for example, there are dozens that offer savings of more than 10 percent off the price to beat. Some, such as the plans offered by Spark Energy and Amigo Energy, claim to offer 26 percent savings over a six-month and four-month contract, respectively.

Competing plans may only be separated by a penny or two per kilowatt-hour, but that can make a big difference over a year. Saving 1 cent per kilowatt-hour in a house that uses 1,000 kilowatt-hours each month can equal $120 per year.

Customers may also opt for plans that give them a longer-term guarantee by locking in a rate for a year or more. Two-year plans like those offered by Stream Energy, StarTex and TXU, as well as the one-year plans offered by Reliant and others, are designed to assure customers that they won't see the spikes they did this summer.

It's possible a customer could lock into a long-term plan only to see rates fall even further, but it's particularly difficult to predict where retail rates will go from year to year.

There are any number of reasons customers don't switch. For some, the choices may seem overwhelming: There are dozens of companies and plans to choose from, many with hidden fees and other caveats that make them difficult to compare.

Vada Russell, a recent retiree on a balanced-billing plan with Reliant, said she has held off switching because she will have to match the difference between her monthly payment under a balanced-bill plan and the sum she owes due to this year's price spike. That figure could reach $700, she said.

"I need several months of low bills so I can catch up. Then I'll look around," Russell said.

Others may not even be aware of how competition works, or that they even have choices. Consumer advocates say that's due in part to a big cut in consumer education funding beginning in 2004 ordered by the Legislature.

Still, some have switched more than once, like Tom King of Katy.

A couple of years ago, King and his wife switched from Reliant to Entergy at a rate of about 9 cents per kilowatt-hour. Entergy then sold its retail customer base in the deregulated parts of Texas to another firm when the rates were about 11 cents per kilowatt-hour.

When those rates went even higher, King switched to Spark Energy, which offered him a rate of 12.9 cents per kilowatt-hour, or 13.24 cents when other costs were included.

"The only drawback is they don't send you a bill in the mail. You have to pay it online either by debit or credit card, but I do get to accumulate some points on my Discover Card," King said.

Lee Ray of northwest Houston also did some shopping around when the bills for his 2,300-square-foot house jumped from $275 last summer to $350 this summer.

At first Ray and his wife considered going with TXU because it was a big company whose name they recognized, but they felt TXU's rates weren't much lower than Reliant's price to beat.

Eventually they decided on a six-month trial with StarTexas Power, which is offering a 12.1 cents per kilowatt-hour price.

Source: Houstone Chronicle (http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/4344942.html)
Ulrich
11-19-2006, 11:54 AM
Nov. 19, 2006, 2:09AM
How do I switch power companies?
By TOM FOWLER
Copyright 2006 Houston

Consumers can always look up "electric companies" in the Yellow Pages, but the best way to shop for a power company in Texas is through the Internet.

The Texas Public Utility Commission's www.powertochoose.org site has been one of the most popular because it's the most complete. Just enter your ZIP code, and a list of all the plans available in your neighborhood, with the prices, comes up.

Consumers can also go to one of several online aggregators of power prices, such as www.chooseenergy.com, www.electricitytexas.com, www.movehouston.com, www.saveonenergy.com or a site run by the city of Houston, www.houstonconsumerchoice.com.

These other sites won't necessarily include every provider in your area but just those that have agreed to provide their price information on the site.

Source: Houston Chronicle (http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/business/4344943.html)
Ulrich
11-19-2006, 11:55 AM
Nov. 19, 2006, 2:21AM
Know before you go to a new provider
Price is main consideration, but keep an eye out for key details
By PURVA PATEL
Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

So you want to switch electric companies?

There are some things you might want to consider first.

Are there any fees involved in the new company you're considering? Will you be penalized for leaving your current company? How are disputes handled at your future provider?

Many of the answers can be found in the often long and boring terms of service agreement. Giving the document a once-over can help consumers avoid being blindsided by unexpected fees and stipulations.

The agreements can be found on company Web sites or the state's site, www.powertochoose.org.

"If you really can't stand the idea of reading the whole agreement, at least go through it and look for numbers and read anything with a number associated with it, because that's where you'll find extra charges," said Carol Biedrzycki, a consumer advocate with the Texas Ratepayers' Organization to Save Energy.

Here are some of the things you may want to consider:

• Price: Energy consultant Mike Harrington suggests that for residential customers, price is the most important, if not only, factor to consider.

"CenterPoint delivers the power and is responsible for the lines if they go out — all you do is make sure you have the lowest price," he said.

Businesses, he said, have other options and need to watch for other costs that could be embedded in the final price.

Check out www.powertochoose.org or www.houstonconsumerchoice.com to compare prices and terms of services. The latter doesn't include all providers in the market, only those that agreed to work with the city of Houston and met city-set standards of financial strength.

Look for what providers call an "electricity facts label," to compare prices. The label will have average per kilowatt-hour rates, including service charges, for several levels of typical monthly power usage.

You may also want to ask each company what your price will be, including taxes and if there are any other charges that would affect the price.

• Usage: Some companies add fees if you use less power. Texas Power, for instance, charges a $10 fee if your monthly usage falls below 1,000 kilowatt-hours.

Others use tiered pricing systems that charge different amounts based on how much electricity you use. This can make it hard to compare prices. Compare tiered plans to tiered plans and straight plans to straight plans.

The less you understand, the less complicated you should try to make it, they say.

• Flexibility vs. price security: Some plans are month-to-month, meaning prices will change with the costs, such as the price of natural gas.

Be aware that many month-to-month plans have clauses that waive a requirement that companies notify you that your price will change. While most contracts have "material change" clauses that require companies to notify consumers 45 days before a major change in the terms of service and give customers 10 days to opt out of the contract, price is not often considered a "major change."

Rules set by the Public Utility Commission don't require companies to give notice of price changes if the terms of service clearly specify how rates may be adjusted.

Still, you may want to ask companies how they interpret that rule. Some, such as Reliant, take a conservative view and say they'll give customers a 45-day notice of any rate increase in any plan so consumers can shop around if they want to. Stream Energy lets customers track rate changes online.

• Billing: If average, or balanced, billing is important to you, make sure the provider offers it. With balanced billing, you pay the same amount each month based on your average usage. Some companies, such as Reliant and TXU, let you choose your billing date.

Spark Energy's new residential customers must receive and pay their bills online, which the company says allows it to pass savings on to customers, but Spark does have a consumer service department to answer questions.

• Fees: Different companies have gobs of fees hidden in the fine print.
TXU, Green Mountain Energy and Reliant charge fees between $3 and $5.95 if you use a customer care representative to make a payment by phone.

Green Mountain also has a $5 fee for each time it has to call you to remind you that your payment is past due.

Most companies also have fees for disconnections and reconnections. Spark Energy charges $50 for each disconnection and termination notice it sends.

Tara Energy will cancel service without penalty if you give the company a 90-day notice. But forgo the notice, and you pay a $150 penalty.

Stream Energy had one of the highest early termination fees at $499 if you sign up for the 36-month fixed rate plan and cancel within a year.

• Dispute resolution: At least one company's agreement, Spark Energy's, says that upon mutual agreement, it can submit a dispute for mediation or arbitration. Spark doesn't require the mediation or arbitration, but it also doesn't mention the right to file a complaint with the Public Utility Commission in its terms of service.

Company officials said they assume consumers know all residential and small commercial customers have the right to make a formal or informal complaint to the commission, and a terms-of-service agreement cannot impair this right.

Texas Power will pass costs on to consumers if they have to refer an account to an attorney for collection.

• Environment: Several companies offer packages for those interested in buying power generated by renewable sources, like wind. The site www.powerscorecard.org offers environmental impact ratings and ranking of various electric plans. Such plans usually cost more but may be worth it if you're looking to help the environment.

• Perks: Lower prices not enough to convince you to switch? Several companies are offering rebates, rewards programs, and other perks to lure customers.

Gexa lets you earn frequent-flier miles in Continental Airlines' OnePass program, and First Choice Power has a rewards program that gives customers a point for each dollar they spend on their power. The points are then redeemable for merchandise.

Direct Energy has a fixed-rate plan that includes service visits for your heating and cooling systems. Reliant is offering $50 credits for Houston price-to-beat customers willing to switch to its 2007 fixed-rate plan, and TXU offers rebates if you make certain energy-efficient upgrades to your home.

• Service: Each company is a different size and has different customer service staffs. When it comes to resolving a billing issue, you want to know the company will solve it. Check complaints with the Public Utility Commission and Better Business Bureau to see how the company has treated other customers. And, of course, it never hurts to ask friends and neighbors about their experiences with providers.

• Negotiate: If you're a small-business or commercial customer, use your business to negotiate and get terms of service you don't like changed, said Mike Logan, CEO of Managed Energy Services.

"It's a way to get the power companies to change their practices," he said.


Source: Houston Chronicle (http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/business/4344944.html)
joe_s2k
11-19-2006, 04:04 PM
I switched to Dynowatt last month and should be getting my first bill from them within the next 2 billing cycles. That's how long it takes to make the switch, so try to plan accordingly before the next heatwave approaches. :D

I'll update this thread with my evaluation of their services.
cdelena
11-19-2006, 05:47 PM
For those of you getting power through a co-op you are probably getting power at a lower rate than any of us served by the so-called 'competitive' suppliers. Most have a similar meter charge, transmission charges of $.016 to .026 per KWH and negotiated power rates. Bottom line is a $.09 - .109 charge per KWH rather than the $.12 - .16 choices available in North Texas.

I tried to send my ESID to the Goggle address but got an error about not being registered.
Kyle
11-19-2006, 05:57 PM
I changed to Spark 3 months ago on a 12 month contract. I'll be interested how the group buy works out and maybe I can jump in next September.
Ulrich
11-19-2006, 06:52 PM
I tried to send my ESID to the Goggle address but got an error about not being registered.
I just PMed it to him on this site. :)

Confirmation would be good. Maybe a list of everyone who sent their ESID so far?
Dadgumit
12-06-2006, 11:04 PM
Hey guys,

I am putting this on hold for the time being. Basically, has not been near as high as I had hoped (maybe everyone already signed contracts elsewhere). That, coupled with the fact that I am getting married next week and going to Mexico brought me to this decision.

I am still opening to doing this, but there needs to be more interest. Maybe I will try again when I get back.

 

 

 

 

 

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