The state of Texas is home to almost 26.5 million people. Its history dates back to the early 1500’s and has since been a part of most major historical events in the United States. Stretching over almost seven hundred thousand square kilometers, it’s no wonder that the state can support a wind farm the size of Michigan.
As the saying goes, “everything’s bigger in Texas!”
When it comes to the energy industry, up until around 2002, there was only one type of company responsible for generating and transporting electricity. When energy deregulation came into effect, the industry changed. It forced the market to open, creating more competition and options for energy consumers.
In Texas, there are now three different roles a company can play:
- Generators are companies that produce electricity.
- Transmission and distribution service providers (TDSPs) are the companies that maintain wires and the poles that deliver energy.
- Retail Electric Providers (REPs) purchase electricity from the Generators, which they then resell to consumers and provide customer service and billing.
Remember, energy deregulation only applies to REPs. It’s not possible for residents to choose the TDSP, but they do have control over which REP they purchase energy from.
Electricity for Homes
In Texas, the average household uses an average of 77 million Btu of electricity per year, which is approximately 14% less than the national average. Breaking these stats down even further shows us that electricity use in the average Texan home is 26% higher than the rest of the United States, however this isn’t much higher than several other states that are closest to Texas. When it comes to cost, the average total household bill per year is $1,801. This amount ranks amongst the highest across America, but other states that typically see soaring temperatures in the summer season aren’t far behind.
Overall, there are four major sources of electrical consumption within Texas households. These sources include:
- Air Conditioning: In Texas, 18% of the state’s household electricity consumption is caused by running air conditioning units. Compared to other nearby states (as well as the rest of the United States) this percentage is quite high.
- Space Heating: 22% of all household electricity consumption is generated from space heaters.
- Water Heating: Heating water accounts for 19% of the state’s household electric usage.
- Appliances, Electronics, Lighting: 41% of all electricity consumption within Texan households involves appliances, lightning and other electronics.
Despite the fact that Texas sees much higher temperatures year round, most households contain and use heating units. These units generate heat in one of four ways: other, propane, electricity and natural gas. Just over half of households in Texas use electricity to run their heating units. This is a much greater average than the overall average for the nation.
The average household in Texas is about 1,757 square feet, with the state seeing the majority single-family homes. Most of these homes were also built between 1970 and 2009.
A few additional stats include:
- The majority of Texas households have 2 to 3 television sets
- Over 40% of Texans also have a DVR
- Just under 80% of households in this state have 1 refrigerator
- Slightly over 20% of homes have a separate freezer
- Around 30% of Texas households have double or triple pane windows
- Slightly below 40% of all households in the state have a programmable thermostat
- About 70% of clothes washers are top loading, 20% are front loading, and 10% don’t have a washing machine
Electricity for Businesses
With several of the world’s major oil companies based or headquartered in the state of Texas, it is no surprise that oil and gas is a thriving industry. However, the state has many businesses in many industries that require electricity in order to run their day-to-day operations including:
- Banking & Finance
- Small Business – Manufacturing and Non-Manufacturing
- Large Business – Manufacturing and Non-Manufacturing
- Computer Technology
The amount of energy consumed is highly dependent on the number of machines operated by the company or business during the work day (and in some cases, after the work day has ended). Overall, there are 2 major sectors for energy consumption in Texas related to businesses. These sectors include:
- Commercial – Companies that fall within this sector uses over 12% of the state’s energy.
- Industrial – This sector consumes over 49% of the state’s energy.
Transportation is a third sector, and it consumes slightly above 24% of the state’s total energy usage.
New Energy Initiatives
Database of State Initiatives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) is a company and website that compiles a list of all the energy incentives available in the United States, by a particular state. The idea is to help inform the public about the latest and greatest energy programs and initiatives – all from one location. DSIRE receives funding from the United States Department of Energy and is run by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center and N.C State University. Browsing the site programs gives you access to viewing all Texas related initiatives.
There are many different programs available for many different reasons including, tax exemption for personal or corporate taxes, grants, rebates and loans. A few of these programs include,
- Austin Energy – Residential Solar PV Rebate Program
- Austin Energy Residential Energy Efficiency Loan Program
- College Station Utilities – Residential Energy Back II Rebate Program
- Guadalupe Valley Electric Cooperative – Renewable Energy Rebates
- Energy Texas – Home Performance with Energy Star Program
- Bryan Texas Utilities – SmartHOME Program
- AEP (Central and North) – CitySmart Program
Selecting a program from the list will display pertinent information such as a website link and a complete summary of the program or initiative. This information helps applicants to quickly understand what information or documentation is required in order to successfully apply.
As always, it is important to check the date on any initiative, loan or grant offered to ensure that the deadline has not passed or expired.
Energy Market in Texas
While energy deregulation created a shift in how electricity reaches its consumers, there are many other interesting facts about the Texan energy market:
- $1,801 is the average annual cost of electricity cost per household.
- It is the largest producer of lignite coal in the United States
- Petroleum refineries in this state have a capacity of 5.1 million barrels per day, which makes up 29% of the nations refining limit.
- In 2014, Texas generated 39 million megawatt hours from wind-powered energy generation.
- As of 2016, electricity prices in Texas have fallen for two consecutive years.
Power to Choose
Power to Choose is a program run by the Public Utility Commission of Texas. Its goal is to protect residents of the state from unfair energy costs and unregulated REPs, as well as develop a strong infrastructure. The program provides an easy to use, online tool that give residents of the state the opportunity to compare rates, plans and other energy options. Keep in mind though, you really need to read the fine print if you decide to use Power to Choose (or any other service, for that matter).
Texas’ Top Utilities
There are several utilities that provide service for wires and poles in Texas. In some cases, they also generate energy and sell it to the REPs in the area. These utilities include:
Residents and businesses in the state of Texas must remember that utilities are responsible for all energy related emergencies. REPs take care of the electricity supply, but they do not manage wires, poles, or outages.