Electricity or Gas Supplier License/Order #s: CA 1359, CTA0006, CTA0032; CT 01-06, 06-07-11, 06-02-17; DE 00-162; DC GA2012-12, GA06-2, EA01-5, GA 11-5, EA 06-5-4, GA03-5; GA GM-46; IL 02-0489, 03-0320, 16-0205,17-0330, 07-0498; IA G-0010; ME 2000-989, 2002-64; MD IR-3645, IR-655, IR-311, IR-500, IR-3644, IR-228; MA GS-053, GS-030, CS-015, CS-045; MI U-14066, U-14867, U-13660, U-13245; NE NG-0043; NH DM 17-024; NJ GSL-0074, GSL-0101, ESL-0016, ESL-0066, GSL-0132, GSL-0099, GSL-0150, ESL-0171; OH, 09-153G, 00-003E, 00-013E; OR ES4 (12-162); PA A-2016-2542899, A-125095, A-110036, A-2016-2547424, A-110110; RI 2379(Z1), D-96-6(E); TX 10014; VA G-26, G-34, G-36, G-51, E-11A
Another unwelcome side effect of not knowing your average monthly kWh usage level is that you may end up paying more than you expect. This can occur when a customer inadvertently shops an electric rate based on a higher usage level than they actually use. Electricity suppliers commonly advertise their electric rates associated with the highest (2000 kWh) usage levels since those tend to be the lowest rates.
Variable Rate: With a variable rate, you stand closer to the fire. Rather than keep your costs separate from market conditions, you experience the rise and fall of price alongside your provider. You profit when supply exceeds demand, but could pay through the nose if the electricity grid becomes overtaxed. That usually means a higher bill in the summer and winter (when demand is at its highest) and a lower one in the fall and spring. A variable rate plan is best for people interested in staying on top of market changes – when prices get too exorbitant, there’s no contract and no cancellation fee if you want to try a new provider.
2. Fraud: Too many people have been victimized by glib sales reps with promises of cheap electricity flowing in an unending stream only to discover that, as is so often true, “it ain’t necessarily so”. They’ve been locked into unwanted term contracts or there’s a catch – some utilities will give you the great rate only if you meet a usage minimum; basically, the “rate” is, in actuality, a “bulk purchase” discounted fee – or they paid a deposit never to hear from the rep again.
An additional bill was passed in 1999 that helped further establish a competitive electricity market by creating a price floor to prevent established energy providers from underselling emerging providers. In 2002, Texas finalized deregulation when the Public Utility Commission gave ERCOT the responsibility of managing and monitoring the Texas electricity market. The market opened up to around 6 million Texas power customers.
3. Customer service: When the only utility available has lousy customer service, nobody is surprised. They don’t even pretend to care – they know they have you over a barrel. With all these new players in town, however, it’s a slap in the face to be treated like royalty until you’ve signed on the dotted line and now they won’t even return your calls or the person on the phone can’t string three English words together or if he does speak English, he’s brand new and panicking trying to pull up your account information.
On the one hand, long-term, fixed rate (contract) plans offer stability in pricing. If energy supply costs suddenly go up in your area, you won’t be left paying more than what you bargained for. You’ll have peace-of-mind. If you want to switch out of your contract before it ends with a lower cost plan, you’ll likely face a cancellation fee (early termination fee).
Of course, choosing a new electricity supplier or natural gas supplier does not mean you are replacing your utility. Your utility will still deliver whatever energy supply you choose, safely and reliably. Since your utility company depends on where you live, you don't have to worry about choosing a utility company. In general, utilities are responsible for maintaining the energy infrastructure. If you experience a power outage or see a downed power line, call your utility company. These are listed in the Utility Companies column below.