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Understanding Energy Deregulation in Texas
Electricity is deregulated in most of Texas. In these areas with energy deregulation, energy delivery is separate from energy supply. Texas utilities still deliver electricity, but consumers must choose a retail electric provider (REP) to supply their electricity. With the legal changes of energy deregulation, the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) helps regulate the industry. In Texas, the PUCT issues licenses for REPs and gives them a scorecard. The PUCT also maintains PowerToChoose.org, a resource for consumers about energy plans.
If you are not sure if you live in an area with energy deregulation, check your last electricity bill. Some areas of Texas are served by cooperatives or municipal utilities. Consumers in those areas do not have electric choice available to them.
Texas utilities deliver your electricity
There are several Texas utilities that offer consumers a choice for their supplier: Oncor, CenterPoint Energy, AEP North, AEP Central, TNMP and Sharyland. No matter which supply company you choose, your utility company will still deliver your electricity. If you experience a power outage, you should contact your utility company.
- Oncor outage hotline: 1-888-313-4747
- CenterPoint outage hotline: 1-800-332-7143
- AEP North and Central outage hotline: 1-866-223-8508
- TNMP outage hotline: 1-888-866-7456
- Sharyland outage hotline: 1-965-668-9551
New to energy deregulation?
Texas is not the only state with energy deregulation. New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois and several other states also have deregulated energy. The main difference with deregulation in Texas is residents must choose a retail energy provider. In most other states you have the option to stick with your utility, but Texas utilities cannot supply your energy in most areas. If you’re moving to Texas from a state with energy regulation, don’t worry. Once you find a REP that offers everything you’re looking for, you can sign up for a plan. When you call, you will talk to a representative who will answer any questions you have and sign you up for energy supply. Your REP will then work with the Texas utility in your neighborhood to make sure you get your energy.
What are the benefits for consumers?
The Texas legislature passed the law to deregulate electricity in 1999. The idea behind deregulation is that competition among retail energy providers drives prices lower. The open market has led to a large number of retail electricity supply companies. Each one of these companies offers unique plans to appeal to consumers. Deregulation gives consumers more options than ever before, so take advantage of the opportunities available in your area.
What should you look for?
When researching your options, you will find that each electricity supply plan has an Electricity Facts Label (EFL). All electricity supply plans in Texas are required to have an EFL to give consumers basic information about the plan. Be sure to read the EFL to determine the contract length, rates and fees. If there is a minimum usage fee, it will be included in the EFL. The more you know about supply plans, the better your decision will be.