Op-ed from the Houston Chronicle – Deregulation and Choice

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Opinion letter providing comments on the topic of energy deregulation in Texas.


Houston Chronicle
Opinion Letter
Written by Alan Ahrens

I am a retired electric utility engineer who would like to offer some comments on the essays about electricity deregulation (“Should Texas pull plug on electricity deregulation?” Page B11, Sunday).

The positions presented by the two industry experts couldn’t be more disparate, with one stating rates have significantly decreased as the result of deregulation and the other insisting that deregulation has cost consumers about $22 billion over the last 11 years. So who is right and where does the truth lie regarding the merits of electricity deregulation in Texas?

In my view the answer is complicated and depends more on the actions of the individual than anything else.

I went to the Texas Public Utility Commission’s (PUC) website, PowertoChoose.org, to check out electric prices for my area. I found a mind-boggling 270 offers, and there was a wide disparity in price – ranging from 5 cents per kilowatt-hour all the way to 14.2 cents per Kwh.

Price offers varied by the amount of electricity used, the length of the contract signed with the retailer, and whether a new or existing customer. Typically the retailer will try to raise the price after the initial contract term expires. Also keep in mind that regardless of the price or retailer involved, the basic product and service will be the same.

My advice on how to sort through all of this and get the best price is to spend a little time determining how much electricity you use over a year. Utilize the PUC’s website to research price offers for your area, try to match your usage patterns to the best price offers and don’t be afraid to negotiate a lower price with the retailer. CenterPoint Energy also has an excellent tool at MYtruecost.com. The customer is in a powerful negotiating position because of the relative ease in switching retailers either online or by phone.


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