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How to Shop for Electricity

How to Shop for Electricity

Shopping for electricity may seem to be a strange phrase, but there are many states, including most of Texas, that allow you to choose your electricity provider. There are many electric companies with varying energy rates for you to consider. Taking the time to look at each of the many Texas electricity providers and then compare electricity rates can help you find the best rate for your home or business.

How to Find the Right Company

The list of energy companies throughout Texas is a long one. Most of the states can choose their electricity provider, so there are several companies to choose from. Each has different plans and rates that change regularly, so it can be difficult to pinpoint which one would be best for you. There are a few features that you may be interested in that can influence your decision.

  • Green Energy: Many companies utilize some form of green energy, but there are Texas electricity providers that solely function on wind or solar energy sources
  • Charity: Several Texas electric companies donate a percentage of their earnings or make an annual donation directly to the charity
  • Technology: Some companies offer easy to use apps or smart technology such as Wi-Fi integrated thermostats to help lower your energy bills
  • Rewards Programs: Electrical companies offer incentives to pay your bills on time or maintain a long-term account
  • Custom Plans: Many energy companies will work with you to create a plan that suits your needs
  • No Credit Check: A few companies do not require the standard soft credit check that comes with most plans
  • No Deposit Electricity: Some providers do not ask for a deposit before turning on your power

How to Choose the Best Provider

One factor you do not need to consider is the quality of the electricity itself. The actual electricity is delivered to your home or business by a few companies called Transmission Distribution Utilities (TDU). They are the ones that will reconnect your power after the storms and repair the damaged pole on the street corner. You will see a standard fee on your electricity bill from these companies that is not dependent on which energy provider you choose.

With the quality of service out of the way, the real search comes down to price. You want to find cheap electricity, so the next step will be to compare Texas electricity rates. Vault Energy Solutions has done the hard work for you. Every company has been vetted and is clearly described on the website. You will not find any hidden fees or stipulations since every factor has been included in the search results. You can type in your zip code and find a list of Texas electric companies in your area and the total rate they charge for electricity.

Each month, electricity providers multiply your total kilowatt-hour (kWh) usage of energy by their rate to calculate your bill. Your search results of each company will show their kWh rate plus any additional fees. You can look at your current bill to see the average amount of electricity you use each month to get an idea of what you would be paying per month.

Why Shop Around?

Electricity is a necessity that your home and business rely on to operate each day. You have to pay for electricity, but when living in Texas, you have the choice to pay less, go green, or support a local charity. Take the time to compare electricity rates and companies and find one that fits your needs.

4 Things You Might Not Know About Electricity in Texas

Texas is a lot of things — big, diverse, gorgeous — but you can never say it’s boring. Its electricity usage is no exception.

Below we look at some surprising facts about power production and consumption in the Lone Star State.

Texas Is On Its Own Electric Grid

Texas is on its own electric grid. That is a fact many people weren’t aware of until the Event That Shan’t Be Named in February 2021. There are three electric grids in the United States: the eastern, the western, and the Texan.

Texas went this route around World War II when the Texas Interconnected System came into being. Texas electric companies joined ranks to take advantage of large hydroelectric dams. However, the federal government had just passed the Federal Power Act in 1935, giving them the right to oversee energy rates and sales for any electricity that crossed state lines.

Guess whose power didn’t cross state lines? Yes. Texas secured its own energy grid and has stuck with it to this day.

Texas Gets Overwhelmingly Powered By Natural Gas

Texas is the largest natural gas producer in the United States by a significant margin. And since the product is being extracted and processed there, why not use it to produce electricity?

Energy companies in Texas get about 47% of their power from natural gas. There are over 160 natural gas production plants in the state, and they produce around 20 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day — enough to account for a double-digit portion of the state’s annual GDP.

Texas Is A Renewable Energy Paradox

There are some strange juxtapositions in Texas when it comes to renewables. Of the state’s massive energy demands, only 1.1% is met by solar — yet Texas is second only to California for the number of solar rooftop installations. Around 780,000 homes in Texas currently have solar panels installed.

Furthermore, Texas uses the largest amount of fossil fuels in the country, from natural gas to coal to petroleum. However, they are also the top consumer of wind power. That makes Texas both a leader and a laggard in terms of renewables. It will be interesting to see how things develop in the coming decades.

Texas Consumes The Most Power Of Any Us State

That’s right. Texas is number one in energy consumption. The Lone Star State’s population is nearing 30 million, with an increasing number of mega-corporations and tech giants relocating thanks to the state’s inviting tax laws and labor supply.

In total, Texas consumed 13 quadrillion British thermal units of power in 2015 — that’s 13,000,000,000,000,000 BTUs. That’s 160% more than California’s consumption that year, 8 quadrillion BTUs — and nearly 100 times as much as the lowest consumer, Vermont (at 132 trillion BTUs).

A lot is happening in Texas: it’s an exciting proving ground for new technologies and developments among electricity providers.

Vault Energy Helps You Find Cheap Electricity in Texas

Vault Electricity is here to help you compare electricity rates in Texas, finding the best rates among all the state’s electric companies.

Who Consumes Most of Texas’ Energy?

Texas has led the United States in energy consumption for six decades and counting. It beats the next-closest state, California, by over 60%, making it an energy-hungry place.

However, headlines like this don’t always tell the whole story. It’s easy to attribute such statistics to a bunch of AC-cooled mansions sucking amperage from the system, but the reality is far more complex. Below, we’ll look at where Texas’ energy goes and how much individual Texans are really using.

The Burden of Energy Production

If you think Texas is just a shameless energy hog, think again: Texas is simply doing some hard work for the rest of the country.

Over half of Texas’ energy consumption goes into industrial use. A large portion of that industry is the energy sector, churning away to create products for the rest of the country to enjoy. Energy sources like natural gas and petroleum don’t suddenly appear in usable form — they have to be processed and refined to be usable. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2020, Texas produced a whopping 43% of the entire country’s crude oil and over a quarter of its natural gas.

Even states that don’t produce these substances use them. However, the burden of energy consumption falls on Texas — it’s just that the title “largest energy consumer” doesn’t capture this subtlety.

In terms of industrial energy consumption per capita, though, Texas is saved by its population numbers. States like Louisiana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and Alaska are far ahead of it in per capita industrial energy consumption (though the most populous of these, Louisiana, barely has 15% of Texas’ population).

Energy production is not exactly thankless work, of course. Texas’ energy industry makes up about 10% of its GDP and earns hundreds of billions of dollars each year. In all, the tradeoff is a happy one.

More Stats on Per Capita Energy Use

Texas is actually closer to the bottom of the list than the top when it comes to per capita energy use in the residential and commercial sectors.

Take residential energy consumption. The average Texan burns 62.1 million BTUs per person per year, making Texas 40th on the list. For comparison, North Dakota is number one at 99.8 BTUs, and Hawaii is last on the list at 24.1 BTUs. A lot of this is because Texas has mild winters that don’t require much heating.

In terms of non-industrial commercial energy consumption, Texas is 28th on the list at 57.9 million BTUs per person per year. That is significantly lower than the District of Columbia’s 152.0 million BTUs and North Dakota’s 122.1 million, though it’s higher than Hawaii’s 30.0 million.

Again, these figures are tempered because Texas is the nation’s leader in wind energy. The Lone Star State cranks out around 28% of all wind energy in the country, and its wind power alone produces twice as much electricity as its nuclear stations.

Vault Energy Makes Comparing Texas Electricity Providers Easy

At Vault Energy, our mission is to make it easy to compare Texas electricity providers anywhere, anytime. Find cheap electricity and get the most value for your dollar using our side-by-side comparison tool.

Joining a National Grid — Is It Ever in The Cards for Texas?

Texas’ recent large-scale disaster at the hands of Winter Storm Uri stirred up a good deal of curiosity about the state’s future. Will Texas ever rejoin the national grid?

Today, the issue of tying into the national grid is a divisive subject. For some, it runs contrary to the very essence of Texas’ independent spirit and means more federal regulations, less competitive pricing, and a sacrifice of values. To proponents of the idea, it would mean greater reliability in the event of future catastrophic weather events, more advancements in future national environmental initiatives, and other advantages.

For many, the idea of at least being able to draw on outside power more reliably — the state has just five bridges to external power sources, three of which are to Mexico — would mean that future disasters like the one that took place in February 2021 could be avoided. The event led to increased skepticism around the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which directly oversees nearly all of the state’s electric load.

It wasn’t just the outages that raised the specter of unification. During the crisis, Texas electric companies’ energy rates skyrocketed to preposterous levels, with some customers receiving electric bills for tens of thousands of dollars for a week’s worth of electricity. It turns out that Texas electricity rates were vulnerable to such a disturbance thanks to the presence of an electricity providers who passed wholesale electricity rates directly on to customers, which despite providing cheap electricity during times of low demand, could not prevent astronomical price hikes during the winter storm when demand soared and supply wilted. This provider is no longer in business in the Texas market.

Proponents argue that the future of the U.S. power grid is one of complete interconnection, in which an end-to-end grid powered largely by green energy provides power wherever it is needed. By remaining isolated, these proponents argue that Texas will continue to impede such progress.

To those opposed to joining the national grid, it comes down to money and independence. Texas electricity providers operate on a grid that does not, at least in the eyes of the law, cross state borders. That makes it exempt from the Federal Power Act’s regulations, which exercises oversight over energy that crosses state lines. This could mean higher electricity rates and greater regulatory pressure on Texas electricity providers.

Opponents also argue that there isn’t compelling evidence that being connected to the larger grid could have prevented the blackouts, as other areas were experiencing the same problem.

However, several days with no electricity, heat, or in many cases, potable water has left a deep imprint on many Texans. With the coming $2 trillion infrastructure bill, it will be interesting to see what position Texas takes for the future.

If you are looking for no-deposit electricity, cheap energy rates, or just the ability to compare electricity rates, look no further than Vault Electricity. We make it easy to find the best cheap electricity available anywhere in Texas.

What You Need To Know About The TXU Free Nights and Solar Days Plan (Updated 2019)

txu2TXU was the first major electric provider in Texas to offer time of day pricing to the public with their introduction of the TXU Free Nights program in Texas.  The plan was an immediate hit with consumers.  The company later created a Free Weekends plan under the banner of TXU Energy Right Time Pricing.  By the summer of 2013 the company had enrolled nearly 100,000 customers in free electricity plans.

TXU’s latest time-of-day pricing plan is TXU Energy Free Nights and Solar Days plan.  Under this plan customers get free electricity from 8:00p.m to 5:00a.m.  The idea with the Free Nights and Solar Days plan and similar plans offered by TXU and other electric companies is to shift consumption away from the 3pm to 7pm window that sees the most stress put on the state’s electric grid.  This is the most expensive time for electricity providers to procure electricity.

Other providers have since introduced similar plans.  They all attempt to address a major challenge that the Texas electric grid deals with. Capacity within a grid must be sufficient to cover peak demand periods.  In Texas, peak demand is typically during the heat of the day when air-conditioners in homes and businesses are at maximum usage.  Other times, particularly at night, most of that power generation capacity sits unused. This is why wholesale electricity prices plummet at night.  Anything that spreads electricity usage out more reduces strain on the grid.

How much does TXU charge per kWh during peak hours?

During the non-free hours, as defined by the plan, there is an energy charge of 17.6 cents per kWh* if you live in the ONCOR service area which includes most of Dallas / Fort Worth and other parts of the state.  In addition to this there is a TDU passthrough charge.

Predicting what your actual all-in rate will be can be tricky since much depends on not only how much electricity you use but what times of day you use it.

TXU Free Nights Solar Days EFL

As a guideline, TXU’s Electricity Fact Label (EFL) dated March 31, 2019 establishes an average price per kWh of 14.9 cents.  This number makes the assumption that you use a total of 1,000 kWh hours.  It also makes the assumption that a certain percentage of your usage falls within the “free nights” window as defined by the plan.  Of course, your results may vary.  If you can shift more of your usage into evening or night time hours, you could lower your effective rate.  A greater percentage of usage during the non-free hours would result in a higher effective rate.

Is TXU free nights worth it?

TXU’s time-of-day plans are best suited for consumers who don’t use a lot of their electricity during hours of peak demand or consumers who are willing to change their habits by shifting power intensive activities such as laundry and dishwashing to the hours designated in the plan as free.

Some recommendations TXU makes for getting the most out of the plan’s free hours:

  • Using timers to control the start time of major appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers
  • Making use of programmable thermostats
  • Charging portable devices during free hours
  • Running pool pumps during free hours

TXU also offers tools using your smart meter to help you analyze your electricity usage and identify ways to lower your electric bill by shifting some of your usage to the free electricity times of day.

* Note: The rates mentioned in this piece are as of March 31 2019.  To see up to the minute electricity rates for this and other plans, enter your zip code above.

What time does free nights start for TXU?

The free portion of the plan covers the hours of 8:00p.m to 5:00a.m.

Where does the solar power come from?

As the name implies, the non-free electricity portion of this plan is based on pricing for solar energy.   By choosing this plan, you are paying to support solar power facilities.  In reality, if you switch to this plan, your power will be coming from the same grid as before.  This grid has electricity from a mix of sources that includes both renewable and non-renewable sources.

Identifying any particular kilowatt of electricity that comes off of the grid as solar would be a little like trying to guess what cows your gallon of milk came from.  The power for this plan is considered solar because TXU purchases solar credits from solar farms to equal the amount of power you use during the day.

See Also: TXU Free Pass 12 Plan

What You Need to Know About The TXU Free Pass Plan (Updated 2020)

TXU is the company that popularized Free Nights and other time of day electricity plans in Texas.  Now the electric company that brought you Free Nights and Solar Days has introduced a plan called the TXU Energy Free Pass 12 Plan.

Note: Texas electricity rates change often.  The rates referenced in this review are as of July 2020.  To compare current TXU rates with other electric companies, enter your zip code at the top of this page.

How does the TXU Free Pass Plan work?

The plan is fairly simple.  For each billing period, TXU takes your 7 highest electricity usage days and subtracts those days from your bill.  For those days you are charged a 0¢/kWh energy charge and the typical pass through fees associated with Oncor or your local distribution utility are waived.

What is the KWh charge on the TXU Free Pass plan?

In the Oncor service area which includes, Dallas and Fort Worth, the energy charge is 15.7¢/kWh.  In addition to that, you will pay the Oncor passthrough fee of 3.577¢/kWh.  This brings the total electricity rate to 19.3¢/kWh for the days you pay for.

If you used exactly the same amount of electricity every day of a 30 day billing cycle, your 7 free days would account for 23.3% of your total electricity usage.

TXU publishes an average electricity rate of 13.9¢/kWh for 1000 kWh of usage in the Oncor delivery area.  To arrive at this number, they assume that 33.1% of your electricity usage occurs during your 7 free days.

electricity rate for TXU Free Pass Plan

Every household is different. Its hard to predict exactly what your final average electricity rate would be.

The table below shows TXU’s published 1000 kWh average electricity rate for each delivery area including the 7 free days.  It also includes the energy charge plus TDU pass through charge for the non-free days of the plan.


TXU Free Pass Electricity Rates

City (TDU) 1000 kWh Average Rate Non-Free Day Rate
Dallas (Oncor) 13.9¢/kWh 19.3¢/kWh
Houston (Centerpoint) 14.9¢/kWh 20.9¢/kWh
Lewisville (TNMP) 14.9¢/kWh 19.9¢/kWh
Abiliene (AEPN) 13.9¢/kWh 19.1¢/kWh
Victoria (AEPC) 14.3¢/kWh 19.8¢/kWh

Is the TXU Free Pass plan a good deal?

The challenge for consumers is to shift their electricity usage habits to take advantage of the free periods.  With Free nights or mornings plans, consumers can change when they do their laundry or wash their dishes.  They can change their pool timers or do other things to plan their daily electricity-intensive chores at the right time.

It’s a little more difficult, however, to shift electricity usage to specific days of the month.  Summer is approaching in Texas which means A/Cs are about to be running all day every day.  You can’t just shove all of your air conditioning into 7 days of the month.

For most consumers, this plan would act somewhat like a free weekends plan.  If you work during the week, you should be adjusting your thermostat to use less electricity to cool your home during the days when you are working.  On the weekend, when you are more likely to be home, you probably want to keep the thermostat at a more comfortable temperature.  You’re also more likely to do energy intensive household chores like laundry during the weekend.  This adds together to make the weekends likely your highest electricity usage days.

 

What else do I need to know about the Free Pass plan?

  • The plan comes with a 12 month contract commitment
  • The cancelation fee is $150
  • It has a base charge of $9.95 per month plus a pass through base charge from your TDU of between $3.42 and $10.53 depending on where you live.
  • The plan has a renewable energy content of 6%

See Also: TXU AutoSaver Plan

Filed under: TXU Free Pass Plan Review

Texas Senate Passes Electricity Reform Bill

It took nearly five hours of debate, but on Tuesday, March 30, the Texas Senate finally signed off on a slate of legislation known as Senate Bill 3. Drawn up in response to the devastating power outages that left much of the state freezing during the worst winter storm in the state’s recent memory, this sweeping overhaul of the electric grid received unanimous support in the Texas Senate before advancing to the House.

According to top lawmakers in the Senate, SB 3 fixes many of the problems exposed by the storm. Among its mandates is that transmission lines, power generators, pipelines, and natural gas facilities receive weatherization upgrades to handle extreme weather. Many were unable to operate when temperatures reached the single digits.

What Caused This to Happen?

Predictably, the period in which this bill was formed has been rife with finger-pointing. First came a wave of blame against renewables, which many decried as responsible for the calamity. The two culprits were the intensity of the cold — which affected all fuel types equally — and the fact that Texas has its own isolated power grid and cannot receive help from other states during outages.

Those in the natural gas industry have pointed out that the power outages were responsible for the natural gas shortage, which caused more power outages to occur. They argue that weatherization would not correct the root of the issue — a point the Senate Bill addresses by delegating the decision around natural gas to the Texas Railroad Commission (which oversees the oil and natural gas industry in Texas).

What Does the Bill Contain?

The bill lacks any detail on how the required upgrades will be funded. Because of the high expenses involved in retrofitting power plants with weatherization equipment, it remains to be seen how energy providers will incorporate the various types of upgrades into their business models.

One area of improvement is the banning of all indexed retail electric plans. Customers with such plans purchased electricity from Texas electric companies at wholesale prices, a strategy that delivered cheap electricity during normal times but that, during the cold spell, led to astronomical electricity rates. Some bills soared as high as $15,000 or more over a week. One of these electricity providers, Griddy, declared bankruptcy in mid-March.

Another portion of SB 3 mandates the creation of a statewide emergency alert system that would keep Texans abreast of future energy blackouts. It also calls for the formation of the Texas Energy Reliability Council (TERC) to coordinate electric companies, regulators, and natural gas facilities and providers to make sure gas distribution is reliable.

Lawmakers used the opportunity to make operations more expensive for renewable energy providers, which Senator Charles Schwertner of Georgetown called “unreliable” in a recent statement. While he claims that too many government subsidies for renewables have created an unfair market advantage for those energy sources, it should be noted that the government subsidizes fossil fuels to the tune of around $20 billion per year.

Will SB 3 Protect Cheap Texas Electricity Rates?

In summary, SB 3 addresses many of the core problems behind Winter Storm Uri’s devastating effects. Though many of the political maneuverings within it are thinly veiled, such is par for the course in any new legislation. It will be fascinating to follow the rollout of this bill and to see how energy companies react.

To compare electricity rates and energy rates from Texas electricity providers, visit Vault Electricity, where we make it easy to find the best electricity plan available.