Texas Electricity Providers Perform Well In Survey

Green Mountain Energy has taken the top spot in the JD Power 2014 Retail Electric Provider Residential Customer Satisfaction Study.  The study, now in its seventh year, surveys electric customers in Texas and several other deregulated electricity states.  Using the data they rank providers on a number of factors and generate an overall score for each company on a 1,000 point scale.

Ranking factors include price, communications, corporate citizenship, enrollment, customer service, and billing/payment.  The results were good news not just for Green Mountain but the Texas electricity market as a whole.   Green Mountain’s overall score of 762 was compared to the state average of 706.  The Texas state average was the highest of any state in the study.

Overall satisfaction of the Texas electricity market continues to improve as this year’s average of 706 was 24 point higher than in 2013.  This trend applies to other states in the survey.  Customer satisfaction across many states improved despite high electricity bills in many parts of the country because of a cold winter.   JD Power attributes the improvement in customer sentiment partly to improved communications.

Green Mountain Energy also points to its improved customer communications as a factor in the company’s top score in this year’s survey.  According to a statement on the company’s website:

“Over the last year, Green Mountain introduced key enhancements to its website, bills, and enrollment process to make it easier for customers to learn about renewable energy and how they’re helping to preserve and protect the environment.”

Champion Energy, who ranked at #1 in the study the past several years, had another strong showing achieving the second highest score of 759.  Green Mountain and Champion were the only two Texas electricity providers to obtain a Power Circle Rating of 5 out of 5 from JD Power.

Several providers where given a 4 out of 5 rating including Cirro Energy, StarTex Power, and Bounce Energy.  The most common ranking was a 3 out of 5 which included Direct Energy, Reliant Energy, First Choice Power, and TXU Energy.

See Also: Complaints In Texas Electricity Market Drop Again
See Also: 2013 Survey Results
See Also: 2012 Survey Results


The Truth About TXU’s Cash Rewards Program

If you’ve turned on a television lately, chances are you have seen the new TXU Cash Rewards commercial.  If you switch to TXU, you will get “up to” 5% in cash rewards.  Once a year you will receive a prepaid debit card with a value totaling “up to” 5% of what you paid TXU for electricity. 

Unfortunately, as with the TXU Free Nights promotion, the TXU Energy Cash Rewards plan it’s not as good as it sounds.

So what’s the catch?  There are several. 

Let’s start with the two word phrase you may have missed in the commercial – “up to”.  The cash bonus paid in the plan is up to 5%.  The 5% rate only applies in year three of the 36 month contract you must sign.  The reward in year one is only 3%.  In year two is goes up to 4%.  Only in the final year does the cash reward reach the full 5%. 

Also, to make sure you stick around for the full three years, TXU adds a $295 cancelation fee to the small print.  You can opt for a two year contract instead.  But there the reward percentage starts at only 3% and only goes up to 4% in the second year.

Rates Are Too High

The big problem with TXU’s new plan is that it is unbelievably expensive.  The base rate on the plan is so much more expensive than other providers that the 3-5% annual rebate is meaningless.  In the end, consumers will pay far more for their electricity with TXU even when the rebate is factored in.

For example:

At the time of this writing, TXU is charging 12.4¢ per kwh for their 24 month plan and 13.5¢ per kwh for their 36 month plan! This is for the Dallas area.  The Houston area is even higher.

Compare this to other electricity providers in Dallas and you will see that this rate is about 30% higher than other companies.  TriEagle Energy is currently offering a rate of 9.2¢ per kwh on their 24 month plan.   Bounce Energy is offering 9.9¢ per kwh on their 24 month plan.  If you opt for a 12 month plan you could do as well as the 8.6¢ per kwh plan being offered by Frontier Utilities.

When compared to the TriEagle plan, a household who uses on average 2,000 kwh per month can expect to pay an extra $768 per year for the TXU plan.  The TXU “reward” would total only $89 in the first year.  Paying an extra $768 per year to get an $89 rebate is not a good deal.

In the end, the new Cash Rewards program is only more smoke and mirrors by TXU to try to cover up the fact that their rates are among the most expensive in Texas