Texas’ Power to Choose is the official electric choice website run and owned by the Public Utility Commission of Texas. It provides consumers living in energy deregulated areas of the state with information and tools to stay on top of energy choice options within the state.
Switching to an REP
Power to Choose is one of the ways in which the state hopes to educate and help consumers learn more about their electricity options. It is also serves as one of the many resources consumers can use to find reliable and approved REPs.
One of the resources Power to Choose offers consumers is an REP Industry Scorecard. This information is kept up to date and reveals the company’s complaint score (marked out of 5 dots). If the REP has 5 dots, it indicates that it has a very low complaint score.
Power to Save
Power to Save is an excellent example of the kinds of resources Power to Choose offers consumers. This website provides several pieces of information regarding electricity in Texas including,
Savings Calculator – This online tool allows consumers to determine how much money they can save by switching to an REP, or cutting back on energy consumption. Filling in various fields such as, average kWh usage and heating and cooling temperature estimates help to calculate results.
Energy Star Saving Tips – Energy Star provides Power to Save with an interactive tool that displays areas within a home. Clicking on the different areas within the home like, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and more will reveal energy saving tips that residential consumers can adopt and implement within their own living space.
Power Partners – This aspect of Power to Save is directed at small businesses looking for ways to save on their electricity bills. Becoming a Texas Power Partner means that the small business is willing to participate in conserving energy during peak times of the year.
About the Grid – Power to Save informs consumers about current grid conditions, which are based on the season. There are different stages of alerts including, normal conditions, conservation alert, power watch, power warning and power emergency. Based on the alert, consumers can discover different ways in which they can help to keep the grid in good condition throughout the year.
Partner Utilities – Electricity
There are 5 major utilities within the state of Texas. These utilities include:
It is important to check with your local utility before attempting to switch to an REP. Most areas of Texas are energy deregulated, but there are still some areas that remain regulated.
Texas Smart Meter
All five of the above mentioned utilities participate in the Texas Smart Meter Program, which is an affiliate of Texas Power to Choose.
Texas Smart Meter stores consumer electricity usage data using smart meters (also known as digital electric meters). The date is stored in 15-minute, monthly and daily intervals and is provided to consumers through what the program calls a “Green Button”. Overall, the Smart Meter allows consumers to share and have access to their usage information quickly and easily, which helps them to better understand and manage their electricity consumption.
Power to Choose is also committed to providing customer with renewable power options. There are two main ways in which consumers can receive cleaner energy including,
- Purchasing 100% environmentally friendly power
- Purchasing Green Power
Many REPs also offer consumers the option to install solar panels or invest in wind turbines. Participating or purchasing these types of products, or energy generated from these products help Texas do its part to reduce its impact on the environment.
There are many additional resources that Texas Power to choose provides to consumers. Some of these resources include:
- Residential Quick Savings Tips
- Peak Tips
- Residential Long Term Savings Tips
- Business Quick Saving Tips
- Business Long Term Saving Tips
- School Program (coming soon)
- Selling Excess Renewable Power
Update: In 2016, PowertoChoose.org made great strides in combating the issue outlined below. We commend them for doing so. As such, the following may be outdated and no longer be relevant.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: yes, we understand you might think we’re biased. Yes, we’re in the business of offering electric rates and plans for Texas homes and businesses, similar to what Power to Choose does. There’s no denying that we hope consumers in Texas use our site, ElectricChoice.com, to shop for electricity — not PowertoChoose.org.
Our team works hard every day of the week to better the product and service we give to consumers. We’re constantly forming new relationships with providers, nurturing current relationships, negotiating with providers for better rates/plans, producing free, quality content to help educate consumers, and offering support to both new and current customers.
We have a passion for what we do. And in all fairness, we’re sure many folks at the Public Utilities Commission of Texas (creators of Power to Choose) have a passion for what they do, as well. In fact, we saw a glimmer of it from Texas PUC Chair Donna Nelson at an open meeting yesterday. According to PowerMarketsToday, she said:
“Now we have prices on PowertoChoose of 1¢/KWH, which of course doesn’t even cover the TDU (transmission and distribution utility) charges… these rates are not always the full story of what a customer will actually be charged.”
1¢/kWh? Wow, sign us up!
Of course, this is highly misleading to consumers. It’s something we’ve detested with a passion for a long time. You see, on ElectricChoice.com, we list actual electric rates. No exceptions. We do not and will not ever allow providers to game the system like they do on PowertoChoose. It is highly misleading to post one electric rate, then require the consumer to grab a calculator and the corresponding provider’s agreement so they can find their actual rate.
Exacerbating this issue is where it’s taking place — PowertoChoose.org, the official electric choice website for the state of Texas. This deceptive practice would be disappointing and frustrating if it were occurring anywhere, but people trust PowertoChoose.org. If a consumer were to stumble upon these 1 cent rates at BobsTexasElectricShopping.net, they may second guess them. “Hmm, why are these rates 7-8 cents lower than all the other rates?”
These deceptive rates aren’t on Bob’s site, though — they’re on an official website belonging to the state of Texas. And while it’s now obvious that PUC is aware of the problem, Executive Director of the PUC Brian Lloyd brought up a sobering reality:
The REPs always find a way ? not all the REPs, but some of the REPs ? whatever we practice, we put in place to try to end the confusion, then they find a way around that.
As of this writing, these 1 cent per kWh offers are still on PowertoChoose.org — just as they’ve been on there for months. And, much like ElectricChoice.com, rates/plans are listed in ascending (lower to highest) order by electric rate.
This means the misleading rates are the very first thing consumers see:
If you were to search for rates in the same zip code on our site, you’d see rates around 7 cents per kWh. This is much more of an accurate (truthful!) electric rate.
According to PowerMarketsToday, at one point in the meeting Ms. Nelson said that she wondered if PowertoChoose.org even needed to exist 15 years into the market. While the site was beneficial and needed when energy deregulation in Texas was young, she said that there were many private companies offering the same service.
We couldn’t agree more.