Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Tips on Selecting the Lowest Electricity Rates in Texas Using PowerToChoose.org

 Looking for the cheapest electric rates in Texas?  The shocking truth is that it's not easy.
Start by visiting http://www.PowerToChose.org.

This will list the "cheapest" plans, but it's not quite that simple.  Companies have hidden costs, like a surcharge if you don't use 1,000 Kilowatt-Hours in a month so you just can't get the lowest price per KWH.

Here's a simple three step strategy for finding the best price for you.

Step 1:  Find out how much electricity you used each month for the last year.
You can find this by looking at your old bills, or, if you have a smartmeter, visit https://www.smartmetertexas.com .

Here's my chart from SmartMeter.com from last year:
And the details


Step 2:  Get the average for the months in these bands:  below 500, 500-1000, 1000-2000, above 2000 KWHs.
I had 9 months between 500 and 1000 KWH with an average of 570 KWH, and 3 months above with an average of 1,100 KWH.

Step 3:  Call the companies with a rating of four and five stars that seem to have the best rates from PowerToChose.org and ask them to tell you how exactly much a month with your average usage in those bands would be.

(Make sure their numbers include everything except taxes.  Two reps on different days from one company quoted me just the "electric charge", and neglected the $9.99 penalty for not reaching 1,000 KWH in a month until I asked if it included that charge.)

 Then multiple those monthly rates times the number of months in that band to get your yearly cost.

 Here's my spreadsheet.  I had 9 months below 1,000 KWH and 3 above.




Months below
1000 kwh
Months above
1000 kwh




93Annual Cost


Average KWH5701,100






CompanyPhone NumberPlan Name


Green Mountain(844) 854-2260Pollution Free Conserve 12 Choice$38.00$67.00$543.00






Discount Power(866) 584-7776Saver 12$45.16$85.00$661.44






Reliant(855) 350-8650Reliant Conservation (SM) 12 plan$45.24$83.77$658.47






Power Express877) 400-0232Sustainable 12$61.00$111.15$882.45


Apt 18$43.00$112.34$724.02






Source Power and Gas(888) 557-0065









TXU(855) 847-6135Discount Texas Choice (12)$75.00$130.00$1,065.00


Smart Discount for 12 months$65.00$86.00$843.00






Mid America(800) 342-3346









Ambit(877) 282-6248Texas select 6 month term$52.85$82.72$723.81


Lone Star Select 6 month$51.14$79.42$698.52

For my usage patterns the best offer I found was from https://www.greenmountainenergy.com.

Step 4: Have someone else do the heavy lifting.  A few options:

A.  Spreadsheet at www.xlhelp.com/Excel/Electric.htm .  It only works in Excel, and I use a Mac, so I cannot verify if it works, but it does look promising.

B.  EnergyChoiceExperts.com will tell you the cheapest plan based on their algorithms.  The cost is $35, but can easily save you that money.

C.  GeekYourRate.com/ will also calculate your best plan.  It's free for a while and they will charge money soon.  It's a beautiful website with wonderful graphics and an easy to follow process to get your best rate.
Here's a pic of my results:




Additional notes:
1.  At the PowerToChose.org web site you can get the exact formula the company uses for the different plans.  I tried to calculated what the customer rep should quote me before calling.

2.  It appears every company in the OnCor  region has to pay OnCor $5.25 base plus
-->$0.036384 per KWH.  Many companies charge a rate for electricity in the different bands, e.g., 7.5 cents for each KWH below 1,000 and 9.2 cents for above 1,000 KWH plus a base charge plus the OnCor charges.Other companies have a "bundled rate" and they roll the OnCor charges into a higher per KWH rate.

3. A good article about the process is at www.star-telegram.com 

Good luck!

Let me know if you find additional helps in picking providers.  I've thought about making a web site to roll all this up into a simple grid.  Would that be helpful to you?

[Update:  As it turns out my cheapest plan was from Gexa Energy, which both GeekYourRate.com and EnergyChoiceExperts.com found, but I did not research.  I would have saved about $80 a year if I'd used their advice.]



3 comments:

Scott Hundley said...

Mitch, Good article on shopping for a new electricity contract. You hit the nail on the head when considering your usage every month, not just the average because of the tricks the electricity companies use, especially above and below 1,000 kWh/month. Looking at total annual cost is the only way to do a true apples-to-apples comparison.

I've been creating spreadsheets like yours for years and I was surprised to learn that many other Texans don't because they don't know they should shop, don't have the time, or feel overwhelmed when trying to use the powertochoose website.

I decided to action and created a database and website called www.energychoiceexperts.com to help other Texans save money on electricity and make the shopping experience easy. We have deciphered all of the tricks played by the electricity companies and calculate the total annual cost of all 12 month plans like you do based upon historical usage by month.

To show you the value of our tool, I took your usage information and plugged it in our tool. For the Green Mountain plan that you are thinking about, I calculated an annual cost of $568 which is pretty close to your calculation of $543. I calculated the annual cost of 124 more plans and I found two that are lower cost than the one you found. I think you only looked at 8 plans. The lowest cost plan I found has an annual cost of $479, a savings of $89 over the Green Mountain Plan. Check out the fact label to check my math. http://www.gexaenergy.com/UI/Handlers/DynamicRatePdf.ashx?pdfid=38222&rkey=8480|2660|1004|18855

We have a moderate feel of $35 for our expert analysis. In your case, we would have saved you $89 before our fee or $54 after our fee. We would have also saved you the time it took to do all of the research on powertochoose and create the spreadsheet. I would guess 2- 3 hours.

Check out our website and let me know what you think.

Scott Hundley
Co-Founder
EnergyChoiceExperts
scott@EnergyChoiceExperts.com

Scott Hundley said...

Mitch, Good article on shopping for a new electricity contract. You hit the nail on the head when considering your usage every month, not just the average because of the tricks the electricity companies use, especially above and below 1,000 kWh/month. Looking at total annual cost is the only way to do a true apples-to-apples comparison.

I've been creating spreadsheets like yours for years and I was surprised to learn that many other Texans don't because they don't know they should shop, don't have the time, or feel overwhelmed when trying to use the powertochoose website.

I decided to action and created a database and website called www.energychoiceexperts.com to help other Texans save money on electricity and make the shopping experience easy. We have deciphered all of the tricks played by the electricity companies and calculate the total annual cost of all 12 month plans like you do based upon historical usage by month.

To show you the value of our tool, I took your usage information and plugged it in our tool. For the Green Mountain plan that you are thinking about, I calculated an annual cost of $568 which is pretty close to your calculation of $543. I calculated the annual cost of 124 more plans and I found two that are lower cost than the one you found. I think you only looked at 8 plans. The lowest cost plan I found has an annual cost of $479, a savings of $89 over the Green Mountain Plan. I will forward you the link to the EFL so you can check it out yourself.

We have a moderate feel of $35 for our expert analysis. In your case, we would have saved you $89 before our fee or $54 after our fee. We would have also saved you the time it took to do all of the research on powertochoose and create the spreadsheet. I would guess 2- 3 hours.

Check out our website and let me know what you think.

Scott Hundley
Co-Founder
EnergyChoiceExperts
scott@EnergyChoiceExperts.com

Fred Anders said...

Hi Mitch. Here’s another option for your list… I recently started www.TexasPowerGuide.com after enduring the confusopoly shopping for my own plan. It’s a waste that countless consumers must make spreadsheets to sort out our best electric plan, so I made one big one to streamline and teach the process.

The result --- the RateGrinder --- calculates the lowest cost plans for your home’s usage, normalizes offers to the current TDU charges, summarizes misc fees from retailers’ Terms documents, and discloses the entire plan database and all calculations for transparency and accuracy. It’s refreshed daily with the plans on PowerToChoose.org and a select few from other sites. To ensure objectivity, we’re completely independent and don’t run ads. If you save money or time using the tool to sign a new contract, we ask a nominal fee in exchange, with payment on the honor system. If you use RateGrinder to doublecheck another shopping service and it doesn’t save you anything, it doesn’t cost you anything. Try it out!

Also, to add to your recommendations above, I’d urge shoppers to verify any new plan’s Electricity Facts Label name, date, _and_ version number before signing up. Often the “Sign up” link leads to a landing site that customers must re-navigate to find their desired plan among many similarly-named options. Lastly, some retailers will negotiate to earn or keep your business --- just make sure you have a tool handy to do the math for your usage before committing.

Fred Anders
Founder, TexasPowerGuide.com
fred@texaspowerguide.com