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What You Need To Know About The TXU Free Nights and Solar Days Plan (Updated 2022)

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Update: Read about the new TXU Ultimate Summer Pass 12 Plan

TXU 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 19.8 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 February 2022

As a guideline, TXU’s Electricity Fact Label (EFL) dated February 16, 2022 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-use 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 February 16, 2022.  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

Wholesale Electricity Rates Moved Higher in 2021

2021 has come to a close. After another pandemic year combined with severe weather events, energy companies and other experts look at overall electricity trends. One conclusion from the U.S. Energy Information Administration is that wholesale electricity rates skewed higher in 2021 than in previous years. What factors contributed to the increased energy rates, and is this upward trend expected to continue into 2022?

Consumer behavior

Wholesale electricity works like any retail market. Electric companies purchase electricity from wholesale suppliers. The utility then adjusts its consumer rates accordingly in response to changes in the wholesale price. The pandemic played a major factor in 2020 prices, which led to noticeable spikes the following year; while the U.S. recorded low electricity demand during the peak of the pandemic, the economy started to bounce back following the vaccination rollout in 2021. Accordingly, the EIA reported summertime price hikes as Americans returned to the office.

Major weather events

Energy stakeholders witnessed the largest price jumps in February 2021, with energy hubs around the country reporting sharp increases in response to unexpectedly cold weather. The largest jump occurred in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT)’s regional market. Unseasonable winter weather in Texas devastated the Texas electric grid, leaving many without clean drinking water and heat. Unsurprisingly, the limited supply due to failed infrastructure and increased demand from consumers shot wholesale electricity prices through the roof, costing utility companies $1,485/MWh. To offer some perspective, ERCOT’s wholesale price in February 2020 was closer to $20/MWh. This significant event impacted the year’s wholesale electricity average.

Reliance on natural gas

Besides the alarming winter weather events, fuel costs are a major contributor to the increased wholesale electricity price. Since 2020, the United States has overwhelmingly transitioned to natural gas as its main source of electricity generation, making up 40% of the country’s power supply. Natural gas is more environmentally-friendly than other fossil fuels, releasing half as much carbon dioxide as coal. As the U.S. set climate change goals and imposed new environmental regulations in recent years, the country’s reliance on natural gas grew. Natural gas prices began increasing marginally in 2020, and experts noticed a dramatic hike in the latter half of 2021.

Supply and demand

Electricity prices are increasing around the world and the United States is somewhat insulated from the high energy costs (in large part because the U.S. has fossil fuel reserves and generates its own electricity). Even so, supply is decreasing, especially in the natural gas market. As economies return to post-pandemic levels and people adjust to unseasonably cold winters, the power demand is increasing. Basic economics dictates that the wholesale price inevitably increases in response, as seen throughout 2021.

2022 predictions

As the country’s economy recovers from the ongoing consequences of the pandemic, one should expect energy prices to stabilize. However, unpredictable weather and increased demand for fuel around the world are still significant burdens on the wholesale electricity industry. Natural gas prices will likely remain high in 2022, especially with colder-than-average January temperatures across the country and ongoing demand for natural gas around the world. Take time to research and compare electricity rates as they continue to adjust amidst the various factors.

What Is Energy Deregulation?

Are you moving to Texas? Welcome to the Lone Star State, where we take pride in our rugged individualism and independent spirit! Now that you’ve made a move, you’ll to want to learn about another one of the great things about living in Texas — energy deregulation.

There are other states in the U.S. with deregulated energy markets. California, Connecticut, Illinois, New, York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and a few other states are in the same company as Texas. That said, there is no state with a wholly deregulated energy market. Today, approximately 85% of Texans have the choice to choose an electrical service provider, meaning Texas consumers can find an energy package that is best suited to their needs. You can think of it much like how you’re able to select a cell phone provider.

Basic facts about energy deregulation

You’ll want to know some basic facts about energy deregulation. If you’ve already lived in a state with energy deregulation (California, Connecticut, Illinois, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are some of them), you may already know what it’s like. That said, there is no state with a wholly deregulated energy market.

Whether you need a refresher or you’re new to this whole energy deregulation thing, we’ll break it down for you so that it’s easier to understand.

You have the freedom to select a residential or commercial energy provider. Today, approximately 85% of Texans have the choice to choose an electrical service provider, meaning Texas consumers can find an energy package that is best suited to their needs. You can think of it much like how you’re able to select a cell phone provider.

It’s supposed to be a great thing for consumers because Retail Electricity Providers (REPs) want to win your business. These providers try to win your business by offering competitive rates, special promotions and loyalty plans. Compare plans and discover a wide range of energy providers, from traditional to green energy plans.

Although you live in a deregulated market, you can still choose to receive your electricity service from a state-appointed utility company.

You will likely have to sign a contract with specific details on the plan you selected. Most providers will have energy plans that range from six months to 24 months. If you terminate the contract early, there may be some fees to pay, too. However, there are options for those that don’t wish to sign a lengthy contract.

Consumers also have a right to select a provider with month-to-month plans! If you choose to go this route, you may find a provider that doesn’t require a credit check or a deposit. The downside if that you won’t be able to lock in a lower rate and the rates may be slightly higher than average.

You get to choose what type of plan. For instance, you can compare options that include fixed rates, variable rate plans, short- and long-term options or a plan with no contract or long-term obligations. Perhaps it’s your first time moving, and you haven’t built up any credit. Or, maybe you have a terrible credit score. It’s all good. You might be able to find an electrical service provider that works with your circumstance.

Are you an eco-conscious consumer? You’re in luck. Even those that rent or lease a place can go green, and do it without having to install solar power. In most markets, you’ll find providers with 100% renewable energy options. You can choose a green energy plan that sources its energy from wind or solar power.

There are two parts to your electricity bill: electric supply and delivery. They may have a different look than the bills you received when you lived in a regulated market. However, each part, supply and distribution, make up about 50% of the bill.

When the power lines go down, there’s no need to panic. A state-appointed utility company will take care of the issue. If there’s an outage or problems with the power lines or poles, call your utility company — do not contact your current retail energy provider. Although private power generators are offering their products for retailers to purchase across Texas, the transmitters are still regulated.

Although most of Texas is a deregulated market, two big cities in our state are not — Austin and San Antonio.

Enjoy a competitive energy marketplace in Texas

When a regulated energy market was the norm, you only had one option for gas and electricity — you were at the mercy of the electrical service provider in your area. You weren’t able to lock in a low fixed rate if you wanted to. Then, on January 1, 2002, the phasing in of electricity deregulation in Texas began. Lawmakers created it in the hopes of creating a more competitive marketplace that could lower prices for customers. Besides having a choice to select a provider, living in an area with a deregulated energy market has other advantages. For one, it motivates energy companies to operate more efficiently. Tired of dealing with lousy customer service? Deregulation has made customer service more of a priority. After all, representatives know that you can switch to another provider when you want. A competitive energy market is encouraging environmental consciousness, too. Texas tops the list of wind power in the U.S. and has the most significant solar potential in the country!

Vault Electricity makes it easy to select the plan you want. Just enter your zip code and shop for the lowest electricity rates from the top providers in your area. You can even enroll on our site so that you can start enjoying your new home in Texas.

How Bitcoin Will Help Stabilize the Texas Grid and Lower Electricity Rates

It’s no surprise that bitcoin has found its way to Texas in a big way.  The Texas ethos and bitcoin ethos are perfectly aligned.  Texas culture embraces individualism, hands-off government, and personal sovereignty.   Add to that a business-friendly environment, low taxes and cheap electricity and it becomes clear why the bitcoin mining industry is flocking to Texas.

Bitcoin mining is energy intensive.   At the current level of difficulty, mining one bitcoin requires about 145,000 kWh of electricity.  Bitcoin miners can lock in long term agreements to purchase electricity from Texas electricity producers for as little as 5¢ per kWh.  That means the electricity cost to mine one bitcoin in Texas is as little $7,200.  There are, of course, other expenses involved including hardware and facilities.  But cheap electricity is a huge benefit of operating in Texas.  And when bitcoin miners relocate to Texas, the arrangement is mutually beneficial.  Bitcoin mining can have a positive impact on the Texas electricity grid.

Benefits for the Texas electricity grid

One of the major challenges of any electricity grid is maintaining enough peak capacity to meet the needs of the grid during times of peak demand.  During normal times, much of the capacity in a grid sets idol because there is no need for the power and no place to put it to use.  But that capacity must be available for when there is a surge of demand on the grid.  This can happen on hot summer days or during a winter storm.

Many regulated jurisdictions address the peak capacity dilemma by operating what is known as a capacity market.  In a capacity market, power producers are paid not just on what electricity they sell to the grid, but on what capacity they add to the system.  This is one way of making sure there is enough spare capacity to meet the demand.

Texas doesn’t operate a capacity market.  Texas has an energy-only market which relies on market forces to ensure that producers are incentivized to build enough power to meet the state’s needs.  Such a system relies on market signals to encourage private companies to build generation capacity.   When demand for electricity rises, the real-time price of electricity goes up.  The increase in prices during these peak demand periods can be dramatic.  Many producers make most of their money during these events.

Bitcoin Mining Servers

So how does bitcoin help solve the capacity problem?

When the grid is demanding more electricity than is being produced by power plants, there are two basic ways to solve the problem.  You can either put more electricity into the grid or reduce the demand for power. When it comes to balancing out the real time supply/demand equation on the grid, an extra watt of power added to the grid is indistinguishable from a watt removed from the demand side.  What is important is to balance out the power going into the grid with the power being drawn from the grid.

This is where bitcoin mining operations can help solve Texas’ demand/supply balance challenges.  Bitcoin mining operations require huge amounts of electricity to power the computers that solve the algorithms that keep the bitcoin network secure.  Cryptocurrency mining is a process that helps secure the blockchain and rewards miners with bitcoin for their efforts. Miners use computer hardware to solve complex mathematical problems in order to add new blocks to the blockchain and are rewarded with bitcoin for their work.   Each bitcoin mining facility is only a tiny part of the global network.  They can be powered down in seconds when the need arises with no consequences for the wider network.

In this way they become a perfectly responsive element of the electricity grid.  They can reduce power demand even faster than new electricity production can be brought online.  That means that during times of strain on the grid, they can instantly relieve stress on the system.

Why would they be willing to temporality stop their mining operations?

There is a concept in the power markets know as demand response.  Demand response means that consumers of electricity can be paid to reduce their electricity consumption at times when the grid is strained, and power prices are spiking.    As mentioned before, reducing demand on the grid is functionally equivalent to adding more power into the grid.

Bitcoin operators don’t need turn off their computers out of pure altruism.  Once again, market forces are at play here.  When the demand for electricity surges, bitcoin mining facilities then can act as virtual power plants.  They will be compensated for the amount of electricity demand they remove from the system.  As demand on the grid goes up and prices rise, it will become more profitable for these companies to not run their mining operations and instead be paid as a demand response resource.

Bitcoin miners will increase capacity on the Texas grid

Bitcoin mining operations will encourage additional electricity capacity for the Texas grid at no additional cost to the average electricity consumer.  They become ready made steady customers for power producers and they use power at a constant rate around the clock.  This makes it profitable for new power capacity to be developed.  Bitcoin will build new power generation in Texas.

The largest operations prebuy large amount of electricity from producers.  This creates a baseline of demand for electricity that incentivizes power producers to build and maintain larger amounts of low cost electricity in Texas.  During times of stress on the grid bitcoin miners can reduce or completely turn off their power consumption to help balance out the grid.

Large bitcoin miners will enter into contracts to make long term purchases of electricity from producers.  They will buy large blocks of electricity at a fixed and low price.  When wholesale prices go up, it becomes profitable for them to sell that electricity to the grid.  Because producers have long term contracts to produce large blocks of electricity, they are financially incentivized to build new capacity.  During times of need, that capacity is available to feed the grid.

In Summary

Large scale crypto mining operations act as shock absorbers in the system.  When demand for electricity is low, they can use the excess power being generated by the system.  When demand and spot electricity prices spike, they can curtail their operations to relieve strain from the grid.  They are financially incentivized to do so because during those periods, it will become more profitable to turn their computers off than to continue running them.  They will increase the overall capacity of the Texas grid and make it more stable at the same time.

Lubbock Residents Will be Able to Choose Their Electricity Providers

Lubbock is joining the Texas Power to Choose marketplace.  Lubbock Power and Light (LP&L)is set to become the first legacy municipal utility to convert to electric choice since the deregulation of the Texas electricity market.  In December of 2021 LP&L presented a plan to the Lubbock city council to transition the city to an open choice market.  On February 15th, the cities Electric Utility Board voted to approve the transition.  A week later, the decision was ratified by the city council. This means that homes and businesses in Lubbock, TX will be free to shop for the electric company that offers them the best rates.

Electric Bill
If you live in Lubbock you will soon been comparing electricity rates

The transition won’t take effect until late 2023 after the city’s electricity grid is fully integrated into the ERCOT managed state grid.  Lubbock is mostly integrated with the EROCT grid already.  There remains about 30% of the cities power to be hooked up to the main grid that provides power to the deregulated parts of Texas.  LP&L has been preparing for years to join ERCOT and just last year transitioned 70% of its customers to ERCOT.

Lubbock Power and Light expects the move to the competitive retail markets will save the city over $100 million in power costs annually.  Similarly, the transition of the city’s electricity production facilities to ERCOT control will significantly reduce the cost of production.

What Happens Next

There is a lot of work that must be done to prepare for such a significant change to the way power is sold in Lubbock.  There are several steps required before Lubbock consumers can begin shopping for their new electric company.

LP&L will have to transition into different roll within the market.  When the transition takes place, they will no longer act as a customer facing electric company.  But they will still be responsible for maintaining electric meters, lines, and distribution equipment.  They will still be the entity responsible for delivering power to homes and businesses in Lubbock.  However, they will no longer bill the end user of electricity.  They will act as a distribution utility billing the retail electricity providers who sell electricity to customers.  To facilitate this, they must update their systems, software and operational procedures.

The city must also go through the process of selecting a provider of last resort (POLR) for Lubbock electricity customers.  POLRs are retail electricity providers who agree to take on customers who lose their electricity providers when the providers go out of business or can no longer provide service to their customers.  Once the transition takes place, Lubbock customers will have to shop for a new electricity provider to buy their electricity from.  LP&L will no longer fulfill that role.  Anyone who doesn’t pick a new provider will be switched to the POLR by default.

The transition must also be approved by ERCOT and the Texas PUC. Additionally, the switch will not commence until after the LP&L load has been fully integrated with ERCOT.  This integration is expected to take place in May of 2023. After all other transition criteria have been met the Electric Utility Board and the city can give the go-ahead for the final move after they are satisfied that there are enough retail electric providers who a ready and able to provide service to the customers of Lubbock and that there are a sufficiently diverse number of options for customers to choose from.

Beyond that, there will likely be a plan to educate residents on what the change means to them and what their options are.  There must also be a plan in place to ensure continued service for anyone who hasn’t selected a new provider by the effective date of the transition. Texas electricity rates are among the cheapest in the country. Electric choice is one of the main reasons for this.

What is the difference between a Traditional Power Grid and Smart Grid

The traditional power grid is a system that consists of various elements, such as synchronous machines, power transformers, transmission lines, transmission substations, distribution lines, distribution substations, and loads. These are usually located far away from where the power is consumed and the power is transmitted through long transmission lines.

The smart grid is the internet era’s answer to the traditional power grid. It provides secured and dependable electrical service. Unlike the traditional grid infrastructure, it is a two-way communication between the utility and the electricity consumer.

The smart grid has the following elements:

  1. A modern electrical grid with information technology and communications integrated into it.
  2. The ability to communicate with, and provide new services for, all electricity customers through a two-way a communication link between a utility and its customer base.
  3. Compatibility with distributed generation resources, technologies that allow consumers to generate power for themselves.
  4. The ability to send price information and control devices, including the appliances in homes and buildings, through a two-way communication network between end users and power suppliers.
  5. Adequate levels of protection against all reasonable contingencies.
  6. Reliability and resiliency to withstand the impacts of a wide range of physical and cyber-attacks.
  7. Interoperability with the existing generation, transmission, and distribution infrastructure (smart grids must be able to work alongside old infrastructure).
  8. The ability to integrate numerous types of advanced meters capable of two-way communication on the network.
  9. Reduced outage times and the ability to restore power after any incident in a very short period of time.
  10. Ability to support applications, such as demand response and advanced distribution grid management systems, capable of providing dynamic incentives and control to system operators.

The smart grid will reduce energy bills

With the smart grid businesses and home owners will be able to increase or decrease their energy usage in real-time based on the current demand for electricity in their area and the current price of electricity through a concept called demand response.  This can result in smaller electric bills.

Demand response is a program that allows customers of an electric utility to reduce their electricity usage during peak hours. The smart grid will allow for two-way communication between the customer and the electric utility, which will make this process easier. Customers will be able to receive price information and control devices, including the appliances in their homes and buildings. This will help to save electricity and reduce the load on the power grid.

Appliances, devices and cars will come programmed with the ability manage this dance of price and demand for you. Imagine a dishwasher that waits for electricity rates to drop before it comes on.

The smart grid will support more efficient use of solar power

The smart grid is necessary to support growth in solar energy. Solar energy is becoming increasingly popular, and the smart grid will be necessary to manage the influx of solar power. The smart grid will allow homeowners with rooftop solar panels to have a day-to-day impact on the amount of solar energy they wish to generate. It will also allow those with home solar panels to benefit from supplying electricity into the grid at certain times, and then drawing it back out during peak hours.

The smart grid will help electric utilities reduce power outages

The smart grid has the ability to reduce outage times and restore power after any incident in a very short period of time. This is due to its improved reliability and resilience. A smart grid integrated with smart devices and appliances can rebalance electricity demand and load in real-time. The smart grid is also able to withstand the impacts of a wide range of physical and cyber-attacks, which makes it more secure than the traditional grid.

How long will it be until Texas transitions to a smart grid

Texas is currently in the process of transitioning from a traditional electrical grid to a smart grid. It will transform how to buy electricity as well as how you use it, manage it, and maybe even produce it.  There will not be a single moment when the grid goes from traditional to smart.  The technology is already enabling innovative products such as prepaid electricity plans.

The grid will constantly be evolving until the transition is complete. The goal of the transition is to make sure that all Texans have access to electricity that is cheap and reliable It will take place in phases over several years.

The first step in transitioning to a smart grid was laying out what exactly should be included in a smart grid including the ability to support applications, such as demand response and advanced distribution grid management systems, capable of providing dynamic incentives and control to system operators.

How to Choose the Best Commercial Energy Provider for Your Business

Texas electric companies want your business. If your business resides in a deregulated energy market in Texas, you’ve got an advantage. You can shop and compare energy suppliers and find the best commercial energy rates that can save money. Businesses owners are always looking for ways to control and cut costs, especially when it comes to energy use. After all, for many businesses, commercial electricity accounts for up to 30% of the annual operating budget.

It can take some time to contact all the commercial electricity companies and compare their options. Vault Electricity can help you get the best rate on electricity from the top energy providers in Texas.

What to look for in commercial energy suppliers

Small, medium and large businesses in Texas can shop around for the best commercial energy rates. Knowing how much electricity you use and the time you use it can help you find the right plan. Here are some things to know about the costs that go into your bill. When it comes to your energy supply costs, it will include energy, capacity, ancillary services, losses, transmission, a renewable portfolio standard and taxes. For natural gas, commodity, basis, fuel or losses and taxes are examples that go into the quote of your energy supply costs.

The best commercial energy suppliers offer a wide range of options to suit your needs. Thanks to deregulation, you can shop around. Compare basic energy plans with contracts that are typically 12-60 months, from fixed to tiered and index price rates. Choose from traditional energy plans to 100% renewable energy plans generated by wind and solar. You may be able to find energy providers that tailor their plans to your industry.

You can lock in a fixed price, so you pay the same constant amount per unit no matter what happens in the market. Choosing a fixed rate is ideal for providing a level of budget certainty. The drawback is that when the energy prices drop, you may miss out on potential savings.

Another option you have is to choose an index price rate, which changes regularly based on how the market is doing. While you may be able to get lower rates, there is a higher risk due to potential price increases in the market.

Compare commercial electricity rates

Did you know that our commercial electricity customers can save an average of 47% on their electricity costs? If your business has less than 5 meters or if your electricity bill is less than $5,000 per month, your business is considered small or medium-sized. You can start saving quickly because small and medium business can shop for electricity themselves. In fact, once you sign a contract, service can begin within 2-3 business days. Plus, if your business has a good credit history, you may not have to put down a deposit.

If your monthly utility bill is more than $5,000 per month, you have a large business. A large company can choose to have Vault Electricity do all the work. We work with dozens of the top energy suppliers in Texas and get you custom quotes. We only work with reputable companies so that you can rest assured that you’re receiving a commercial electricity plan that’s ideal for your business. Plus, with so many energy suppliers in Texas, you’ll be glad to know that we only work with companies that ensure your commercial electricity needs. Our team of experts makes it a smooth process from the get-go.

Let us know what you need, and we’ll do the rest!