Archive for July, 2012

Tips for Texas Electric Shopping

With Texas energy deregulation, consumers have got a choice to select their electric providers and plans that suit their needs and budget. But since a wide variety of electricity deals available in your zip code, which may vary either by the length of contract or price, it becomes quite difficult to compare them. Since most Texas electricity contracts don’t have any uniformity among the contract terms, and even the ones that do only have a limited amount of uniformity, you need to consider certain factors while shopping for Texas electricity plans, as mentioned below:

 

  • Frequency of bills: Unless your electric service is provided for a period less than a month, your REP would issue bills on a monthly basis. However, in case you and your REP agree to bills issued less frequently than monthly, the same can be done as well. So, check the options your shortlisted REP offers before you sign the contract.

 

  • Delivery of Texas electric bills: The electric bills are issued in writing to the residential customers by their respective REPs, which are then delivered by the United States Postal Service. In case you and your REP agree, you may also get electronic bills sent by your REP at your email id registered with it. Most people these days prefer to get their bills online. In case you too belong to this league, check if your chosen REP provides this service or not.

 

 

  • Actual vs. Estimated bills: If for some reason, the REP is incapable of taking the actual meter reading, it may issue a bill based on your estimated usage. In case of an estimated bill, you will be informed about the cause why such a bill was sent by your REP. Make sure to know the circumstances when such a bill can be raised before you sign an electric contract.

 

  • Bill content: Make sure you know what elements form an integral part of your electric bill content, and check if your REP sends bills that adhere to the same.

 

 

  • Getting copy of electric bills free of charge: An REP usually maintains monthly records of billing and payment data for a minimum of 24 months after the bill has been mailed. You can obtain a free copy of your electric bill upon request. However, during every 12-month period, you can get such free copies of bills only for once.
  • Customer service: Check if your shortlisted REP has a good and prompt customer service desk that attends to your queries and problems quickly, and resolves them at the earliest.

 

With the power to choose in the hands of the consumer, you can now shop around for favorable energy plans for your business or home. Since most electric companies vie with one another to lure consumers, they offer lower rates and additional deals, which spell value for money.  In today’s competitive energy markets, you need to make a knowledgeable choice to benefit the most. Use the tips mentioned above while shopping for Texas electricity to make an informed decision, and get plans and services worth every dollar of your hard earned money.

 

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Will high electricity prices in Texas trigger more energy generation?

A report released in May this year predicted a gloomy picture about the state’s future electric reserves. According to the analysis, by 2014, Texas energy reserves are predicted to drop below the safe levels. What’s more threatening is that beyond 2014, the reserves are likely to dip even lower, which in turn is expected to cause rolling blackouts.

 

Plans for the future

With such dire predictions and an expected rise in Texas electricity prices, it becomes imminent to plan for the future. However, some experts say that there’s still hope as the outlook for 2013’s summer has actually improved since the last CDR, which was released in 2011’s December.

After the release of that report, almost 1240 MW of previously “shelved” capacity has returned, which would help meet the future needs. Another 1,130 MW is also expected, as a coal-fired plant which was earlier slated to discontinue under the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule but has been ruled over by the federal court.

After the last CDR report, ERCOT has started operation of almost 600 MW of new renewable power sources, which includes solar power (59 MW), biomass (105 MW), and wind power (432 MW).  The additional capacity of these Texas energy resources are expected to help reduce the growing blackout threats in the state. According to a forecast, by 2016, Texas will have several new power generation plants in place, which will deliver over 2,000 MW (for wind power), 3,657 MW (attributed to gas-fired facilities), 900 MW (from coal-fired resources), and 60 MW (solar energy) of power.

 

Demand response

In addition to the energy generation that the above sources will bring, ERCOT is also planning to bring “demand response” in use, which will allow it to deal with forthcoming summer months when the load on the grid is high. Though ERCOT has adequate electric power to serve users throughout the year, the demand response programs will help in addressing the highest demand periods, where consumers agree to decrease their power usage when particular conditions occur.

 

High price cap a deterrent for new power plants

According to Robert McCullough – an economist based in Portland, the rising power cap in Texas can discourage power companies from setting up more power plants, since by letting scarcity of power stay intact, these companies can benefit more from the higher prices. Thus, McCullough and several other experts feel that the new cap on Texas electricity will encourage traders to create artificial shortages.

 

Conclusion

According to McCullough, Texas has more energy resources than many other US states, and yet it has skyrocketing prices, which are higher than most of its neighboring states, due to a failing electric system. Though ERCOT’s plan to bring more energy resources into play in the near future to tide over blackouts and energy scarcity gives hope to Texas electricity consumers, only time will tell if power companies will set up power plants to trigger more generation or opt for easy profits by making the most of the higher rates and letting the energy scarcity prevail.

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