Sifting Through Energy Company Offers in a World of Deregulation: Part 2

As stated in my previous article, there are a few areas where aggregate sites like Powertochoose.org fall short when comparing electricity providers. I’d like to make things a bit clearer by providing some of the missing information below (as of April 15, 2012).

                While collecting these, I had some interesting conversations with representatives. For example, one representative told me that the base rate was all ready added in the quoted kWh charge. That seemed like a good deal—a clear winner. However, when I checked the quoted price of $0.105/kWh, and then what “average pricing” would be, the average price was $0.123 for the amount of kilowatts we use many months out of the year (less than 500). If I had not clicked through to another page, I would have believed I was getting $0.105 per kWh with the base rate added in. After discussing how I thought this was sneaky to the representative, I found the following asterisk on the 12-month $0.105/kWh plan: “*Rates are the average price per kWh based on monthly usage of 2000 kWh. Your actual price for electricity service may be different depending on how and when you use electricity. See the Electricity Facts Label for additional pricing information.” Guess which price shows up on the powertochoose.org website: $0.109/kWh rate (for the same plan type and name).

See how tricky this can be? That was my first less than average rates are quoted, not actual rates.

                Here’s my disclaimer for the chart below: the information in the chart below is based on a 12-month, fixed-rate electricity plan. Also, given how difficult it was for me to find all of this information, I could certainly have missed some information from one site over another. Every plan has “pass thru fees” not listed below. Check out each of these places for yourself once you have narrowed down some providers.

Retail Electricity Provider Base Rates Extra Charges
TXU Energy $4.95/mt.  
Reliant Energy $9.95/mt. <800 kWh Disconnect Recovery: $25;

Service Processing Fee: up to $5.95; Account Security

Fee: $80 for multi-family dwelling and $125 single

family dwelling; Information on other non-recurring

fees is available in the pricing section of your Terms of

Service

 

StarTex Power $4.99 will apply if usage is less than or equal to 499 kWh in a billing period.  $20 disconnection fee, a $20 reconnection fee in the event that STARTEX processes a reconnection transaction on your account
Pennywise Power $9.95 <1000 kWh $25 Disconnect Recovery Charge
APNA Energy $9.95 <1000 kWh A $7.62 disconnection transaction notice fee for processing an electric service disconnection transaction

notice (this fee will be assessed regardless of whether your electric service is actually physically disconnected and is in addition to any

disconnect/reconnect fees that may be assessed by your local TDSP/TDU;

Amigo Energy $6.95 <800 kWh a $22 disconnection fee for issuance of an electric service disconnection notice (this fee will be assessed regardless of whether your

electric service is actually disconnected and is in addition to any disconnect/reconnect fees that may be assessed by your TDSP) and 3) a $5 manual

payment fee if you are enrolled on a product that requires automatic bill payment, or have received a discounted rate for enrolling in automatic bill payment,

and your payment cannot be processed automatically for any reason

Southwest Power and Light $7.95 <1000 kWh one time service charge of $3.50 will be charged for additional copies (including email and electronic copies) of your

bill, duplicate bills, credit reference letters, and disconnect notices; $20.00 reconnect fee; you agree to pay a collections processing fee of $20.00 if your indebtedness is referred to

Southwest’s internal collections group; and (ii) in addition, you agree to pay reasonable fees and expenses (including attorney fees) incurred by Southwest in

the collection of such indebtedness

Brilliant Energy, LLC $8.99 <999 kWh $75.00 reconnection fee;
Potentia Energy $9.99 <1000 kWh $4.95 processing fee to pay online may be billed; $5.00 zero usage fee; $50 if you request an inadvertent gain transaction to be submitted on your behalf
Mega Energy, LP $12.95 <500 kWh; $9.95 500-999 kWh Up to $9.95 for any payment processed by customer service rep; $5.95 service processing fee for processing of a one-time online payment; $3.95 disconnect notice fee; $70 disconnect fee
True Electric $9.96 <985 kWh $20 disconnection notice fee; up to $10 every time a disconnection completes through TDSP
Spark Energy $8.99 <1000 kWh $50.00 for each disconnection request Spark Energy sends to TDSP for Customer’s account
TriEagle Energy $4.95 TDSP disconnection fee (varies)
Epcot Electric $9.95 <500; $7.95 500-1000 kWh Lots of pass-thru fees listed in Terms of Service
Veteran Energy $5.00 <999 kWh Lots of fees listed in table
Cirro Energy $5.25 <1000 kWh, $25 reconnect fee;
Bounce Energy $6.95 <1000 kWh $25 reconnect process fee; $6.95 per month charged for any promotional or introductory plan
Gexa Energy $4.79 $15 suspension/disconnection fee; $15 reconnection fee

 While sifting through all of this I learned a few pieces of information to pass along to you all. You always want to check the Electricity Facts Label (EFL) when looking for quoted prices in an easy-to-read format. Then to find additional fees and pricing information, go to the Terms of Service. Finally, Centerpoint/TDSU meter and usage fees passed onto consumers seem to vary from company to company. For example, Pennywise Power states that the CenterPoint Energy Delivery Charges passed through without markup: $9.54 per month and 3.4511¢ per kWh while StarTex Power has a Centerpoint meter surcharge of $4.07 per billing cycle and a Centerpoint usage surcharge of 0.2093 ¢/kWh. Also, Page 6 of this Terms of Service has a great chart of possible one-time fees from the TDU/TDSP that may be passed onto you. It appears that some companies are the same but listed twice and under different names, such as Mission and Yep (they have the exact same publications and information as other companies). I have deleted them from this list. Finally, Powertochoose.org keeps a tally of complaints on each electricity company that you might want to check out before making your selection.  

                Other than that, good luck in your search! I need a glass of wine…

4 comments… add one

  • Check out Entrust Energy, who offers several competitive, straightforward pricing plans WITHOUT hidden or unnecessary monthly customer fee or base charge like the rest of the companies you listed: there is no fee to sign-up, no online payment fee, no monthly customer service fee and no fee to call and speak with an agent.

    http://www.entrustenergy.com

  • Interesting. Is net metering allowed in this scheme, meaning, are you allowed to sell power back into the grid if you produce your own energy?
    101 Centavos recently posted..The Rain in Spain Falls Mainly on the Plain (plus, an odd post link or two)

    • FruGal

      I read on one of the offers that they do allow it; my question is, how would you produce extra electricity? I guess through solar energy?

  • James Tylor

    It is important for energy consumers to go through the details of the electricity plans and understand the pricing structure for individual bands of energy usage.

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