Consumer Information on Texas Electricity

Consumer Issues Facing the Texas Retail Electricity Markets

I found a list of sites that explain consumer issues in regards to residential Texas electricity that are becoming a problem in the deregulated state of Texas. Although not all Texas electric providers and in fact most do not participate in tactics to mislead consumers there are some disturbing trends that crop up every once in awhile that need to be addressed. Unfortunately the Public utility Commission of Texas can only investigate an issue if the wronged consumer files a detailed complaint with as much evidence as possible. Most electric service consumers do not take the time to file complaints with the PUCT so nothing really gets accomplished to ban certain marketing practices Texas electricity providers will employ to sell electricity service.

Examples From the Past

For instance, last summer National Power Company offered a fixed electric rate on the state’s Power to Choose website and thousands of customers signed up for this rate because it was the cheapest price out there. National Power could not honor the rate because fuel prices increased and sent out a notification saying the electricity price would have to go up because fuel prices had increased. The issue is that an electric company should hedge enough energy to honor any fixed rates they promise their customers. The PUCT investigated several reports that National Power electric service customers had given in regards to NPC refusing to honor the low priced electricity rate. This would have forced these energy consumers to sign up with someone else at the top of the market at around 16 – 17 cents per kWh.

Fraudulently Advertised Electric Rates and Fixed Rate Terms

There are a couple of issues going on the summer of 2009 but are not easy to find as most Texas electric companies now know they can’t advertise a fraudulent electricity rate on the state’s website and get a way with it. Instead a few electric companies will advertise a “too good to be true” offer on Google or Yahoo ad network. The energy companies site will advertise a rate several cents cheaper than everyone else although they will leave off the TDSP charges. The argument made is that the Texas retail electric provider is not responsible for the TDSP charges so they do not have to include them. This is true however most Texas electric companies will bundle the TDSP charges in the rate so the consumer knows exactly what the total charge will look like.

Not Bundling in TDSP Charges a New Tactic to Show a Lower Electricity Rate

A Texas consumer that ends up on one of these sites that does not bundle in the TDSP charges will most often sign up on the electric rate only to be surprised on their first months bill where the Texas electric rate is several cents per kWh higher. The PUCT needs to step in and ban this practice. The PUCT should require that all retail electric providers disclose what the total bundled rate will be. For instance, on Trickster Energy’s website they show a facts label that has a 7.5 cents per kWh charge and a 10.1 cents per kWh charge in the facts label on their site. You would assume that the total bundled rate is the higher of the two charges. Everything seems legit until you call the sales agent with Trickster Electric Company. The Trickster sales agent explains that the 10.1 cents per kWh does not include the TDSP charges but she did not mention these additional charges until I questioned if there were additional fees and charges.

Sales Agent With Trickster Energy Keeping TDSP Charges a Mystery

The sales agent with Trickster went on to say that they are not responsible for the additional TDSP charges because those are charged by Oncor Electric Delivery and they only pass those charges through. She said she had no idea what those charges would be for a residential home. If you call multiple other electric providers in Texas they know that the charges will average between 3 – 4 cents per kWh and will usually fix those charges and bundle them into their electric rate.

Don’t Fall for These Super Low Texas Electricity Rates

Many Texas energy consumers have fallen for these fake low electricity prices. It is important to voice your complaints with the PUCT and send as much evidence of this issue to the PUCT by fax. Electric bills, advertisements and a long essay on what the electric company told you is a good way to start. You can file a complaint now with the PUCT by clicking on the complaint form link.

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June 9, 2009
Filed Under: Energy

Comments

  1. Don Harvey says:

    Sream Electric pitched me a bait and switch rate raising their rate after two months

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