Archive for February, 2012

Are smart meters really smart?

Recently, Texas electric companies in Central Texas conducted side-by-side tests to confirm the accuracy of smart meters. These tests show that smart meters are indeed accurate compared to traditional analog meters, giving consumers more reliable information about their Texas electricity consumption and electricity rates.

 

As smart meters are being rolled out in various parts of the state, consumers in deregulated energy areas now have the power to choose electricity providers that will utilize smart meters for their services. Despite the negative publicity thrown against the use of smart meters from certain groups, this technology will pave the way for the future of electrical use not only in Texas and the United States, but in other parts of the world.

 

The “Smart” In Smart Meters

Smart meters go beyond the basic task of metering and their relationship with electricity rates and consumption. The “smart” in smart meters involves the handling and processing of data, particularly in developing better ways of doing things related to energy use. Smart meters enable consumers to monitor and control their costs in real-time for air-conditioning, heat, utility water and even natural gas.

 

It can and will involve other complex processes that go beyond the capabilities of traditional analog meters such as: data systems, data infrastructure, data collection, advanced meter management systems, and interconnectivity with other “smart” appliances in the home. When people are more aware of their electricity consumption, they can bring their use under control thus help bring down harmful carbon emissions.

 

Issues and Challenges

In some areas in the United States such as in California, consumer groups filed a class action lawsuit against their utility company, contending that their electricity bills ballooned with their use of smart meters. Investigation into these complaints indicate that there were no real issues with the smart meters’ performance nor were they responsible for the higher bills – except the fact that the smart meters indicated a more accurate figure of users’ electricity consumption, as well as variations in electricity rates which are caused by external factors.

 

Another issue hurled against smart meters is the supposedly health risk posed by the use of wireless technologies in smart meters used in the transmission of relevant data from the unit to the processing base stations at utility company facilities. The World Health Organization however gave the conclusion that there are no scientific evidences that point to the adverse health effects supposedly caused by wireless technologies.

 

Market Outlook for Smart Meters

The market outlook for smart meters looks promising, not only in the United States but in other emerging market countries as well, according to reports from Northeast Group LLC. The report indicates that the market could hit the $49 billion level by the year 2020 as these countries continue to focus in developing intelligent electricity grid systems in an effort to conserve energy, support the use of renewable energy sources, and reduce the impact of carbon emissions with the use of electricity.

 

About Shop Texas Electricity– Shop Texas Electricity helps consumers and businesses compare and shop for their electricity plans in Texas. Learn more about Shop Texas Electricity by visiting us at www.ShopTexasElectricity.com

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Is this a good time to switch electricity providers?

In energy deregulated market such as that in Texas, switching providers can give you the best electricity rates that will keep your monthly bills low. Not only will you have the potential to get cheap electricity rates when you take advantage of your electricity choices, you can even get lots of perks and rewards just for paying bills that you meant to pay regularly anyway.

 

The question that would pop out of anyone who has not yet shopped for electricity rates would be: when is the good time to switch electricity providers? There are several considerations to make first before making the switch so you can get the best deals and get the most benefits from exercising your power to select. It should start however in understanding why you need to switch electricity providers.

 

Why Switch Electricity Providers?

In a competitive electricity market like Texas, several different retail electric providers compete for consumers’ attention and patronage. These suppliers compete by offering different kinds of electric rates, payment schemes, and consumer incentive programs. Shopping for electricity rates and providers enables you to compare what each one has to offer, and if you find one that offers a better deal than your existing supplier, then there should be no reason why you should not switch electricity providers.

 

Consumers should also understand that electricity rates are determined and influenced by several other factors such as the area you live in, the overall consumption of electricity in that particular area, the electrical reserve level that can compensate for peak hours, and the time of the year. Understanding how these factors influence electricity rates can tell you when the right time to switch electricity providers is.

 

The Right Time to Switch

 

While you can switch electricity providers anytime of the year and still get big savings from shopping electricity rates and making the switch, studying when the right to switch providers should also be an important consideration you should make to get the biggest benefits. The first thing that you should know are the months that electricity rates are at their peak, and in the case of Texas, the hot days of summer and the cool nights of winter would fall under the highest rates.

 

Historically, electricity rates are greatly affected with extremes in weather. Texas residents experienced firsthand how the unnaturally hot summer of last year caused breakdowns in several power plants, prompting the Texas electricity grid operator to call out electricity emergency warnings. During extreme weather conditions, people tend to use more electricity than what they used to and this will put a great drain on existing reserves and a great strain on power plants struggling to keep up with the demand. With this understanding in mind, making the switch to a new electricity provider before the onset of these extreme-weather months would be the right time for doing so.

 

Other Considerations to Make

You should also consider other factors that would make the switch to a new electricity provider much more beneficial and one of this is choosing the right payment plan for you. If you are a permanent resident and have no plans of moving out in the near future, then choosing a fixed, long-term plan would be the best choice to make as this would lock down electricity rates to what you will agree to in your contract.

 

Locking in your electrical rates when you switch electricity providers would be the best choice now as forecast tells that Texas will be in for another rough and hot summer with all the promptings of electrical emergencies in the horizon. Demand for Texas electricity continues to grow and there’s no sign that this will slow down, but grid capacity continues to be a question mark in everyone’s mind – and this would surely affect electricity rates in the very near future.

 

 

 

About Shop Texas Electricity– Shop Texas Electricity helps consumers and businesses compare and shop for their electricity plans in Texas. Learn more about Shop Texas Electricity by visiting us at www.ShopTexasElectricity.com

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Five Questions to Ask When You Shop for Electricity Rates

During the last decade, there have been several changes and evolutions in the electricity industry following both State and Federal initiatives. One of the most radical and controversial among these changes involved the restructuring of the power market into something more competitive and deregulated. Several states across the country have adopted energy deregulation, giving their consumers the power to choose providers and shop for electricity rates according to their convenience.

 

From the regulated monopolies of local utility companies to the deregulation of retail electric providers, energy deregulation spurred higher levels of competition among electricity companies in states like Texas that implemented such changes to the market. Although the production and transmission of electricity remains regulated and under the control of governing bodies like the Public Utility Commission of Texas, retail providers compete for consumers’ attention when they shop for electricity rates.

 

To gain the most benefit from your option to shop for electricity rates, one must first make several considerations and ask the following basic questions to guide them when they choose suppliers. Although cheap electricity rates are undoubtedly the most common reason why a consumer would switch electric provider, there are other things to consider that you should include in the selection process.

 

Do I live in an energy deregulated market?

The power to choose retail electric providers is logically available only to states that have a deregulated energy market. But not all areas in a particular state have a competitive market. In the case of Texas, some cities like Austin and San Antonio do not have electricity competition available yet, although major cities like Houston, Dallas, and Forth Worth have deregulated markets.

 

Am I satisfied with my current Texas electricity provider?

Before you decide to shop for electricity rates and make a switch to another electricity provider, you must first ask yourself if you are not satisfied with your current one. As mentioned earlier, the price of electricity should not be the only reason for making the switch as there are other tangible and intangible benefits that you can get from one supplier that you will not get from another.

 

Do I have an existing contract with my current electricity provider?

As simple as this may seem, you should check if you are bound by whatever contract you may have with your current retail electricity provider before allocating the resources to shop for electricity rates and new providers. If your current contract is about to expire and you feel that you are not satisfied with your current supplier, then by all means start with the selection process and get the best deals available.

 

What terms would give me the most benefit: fixed-rate or variable-rate terms?

There are several terms of services and payment schemes that you should consider when you shop for electricity rates. Depending on your needs and lifestyle, you can choose between and long-term fixed-rate plan that can lock in you electricity rates for a specified period of time, or you can opt for a variable rate plan that would depend on what the overall electricity market dictates.

 

Are Green Energy options of interest to me?

Ready to go green? You can do so by choosing a retail electric provider that sells electricity coming from alternative energy resources like solar and wind – forms of renewable energy that is slowly making a dent in the Texas electricity market. Participating in a green energy plan like this allows you to give your part in the battle for climate change and offset its negative effects by using green energy.

 

About Shop Texas Electricity– Shop Texas Electricity helps consumers and businesses compare and shop for their electricity plans in Texas. Learn more about Shop Texas Electricity by visiting us at www.ShopTexasElectricity.com 

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Save Money by Switching Texas Commercial Electricity Providers

One of the biggest benefits consumers get from the deregulated Texas electricity industry aside from their power to choose electric providers is that they can enjoy cheap electricity and competitive commercial electricity rates. In fact, Texas consumers enjoy the 3rd cheapest rates in the country and this is due to the price caps placed on wholesale electricity. To give you a better figure, the wholesale price cap currently sits at only $3000 per MWh which is lower compared to other states and five times lower than the $12,500 per MWh market cap employed in Australia.

To get the full benefits and save lots of money from your electric bills, business owners can exercise their advantage and switch commercial electricity providers. These providers compete for your business and are utilizing various ways to gain your trust and eventually work with them as the power provider for your business or commercial establishments. However, shopping for commercial electricity providers can be a complicated task, particularly true if you have little understanding of how things work in the Texas electricity industry and how you can compute for all the charges and rates and come up with the final dollar figure that you have to pay for.

Shop for Texas Commercial Electricity Providers

There are more than a hundred retail electric providers competing as your commercial electricity provider. Going through this maze can be a daunting task if you want to strike out on this road on your own. You need to go through all the details required for you to switch providers, as well as understand the complex jumble of applicable fees, electric rates and payment plans – a very time consuming and tedious activity can cost you substantial amounts of money if not done properly.

One of the good things in a deregulated Texas electricity market however is the emergence of consolidators, aggregators or brokerage companies that help simplify the shopping experience for your business. These companies can do the market evaluation for you, even providing you with a customized analysis that takes into account the commercial electricity provider’s energy rates, your historical electricity usages, and other pertinent fees and charges in your desired plans and come up with a package that you can use in the selection process.

Where to Start

Working with a licensed energy aggregator or brokerage company to help you in shopping for a commercial electricity provider can assure that you are doing the selection process right and come out with the best choice that will give you the highest overall benefits. You can make the selection and purchasing process online through the brokerage or aggregator company’s website and they will take care of the rest. In this way, you don’t need to go through all the hassle of negotiations and focus on what you should do best – running your business.

When choosing a brokerage company, select one that works and maintains a non-agency relationship with several commercial electricity providers. These companies have already screened these companies from among the several retail electric providers all competing against each other for your business. They can work as your energy consultant and help you get the best and cheapest commercial electricity rates as possible.

About Shop Texas Electricity– Shop Texas Electricity helps consumers and businesses compare and shop for their electricity plans in Texas. Learn more about Shop Texas Electricity by visiting us at www.ShopTexasElectricity.com

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