Saving money and saving energy should go hand in hand. Shutting off unused appliances, adjusting the thermostat a few degrees, line drying clothes — it seems logical that Texans who pursue such energy-saving strategies should be rewarded with lower electric bills.
But here’s the rub: many retail electric providers — often unbeknownst to their customers — charge minimum usage fees. This has the effect of penalizing Texans who reduce their consumption below a certain level. Amigo Energy, Bounce Energy, Cirro Energy, Mega Energy, Tara Energy, and Texas Power all have charged such fees at one time or another, according to a report from the Texas Ratepayers Organization to Save Energy, a consumer group.
Texans also are on the hook for paying surcharges for advanced meters (which have been promoted as devices that can encourage energy efficiency) and to fund a statewide energy efficiency program. Together, these two surcharges cost residential electric customers in the Oncor service territory more than $3 per month.
The ironical effect is that Texans end up paying both for programs meant to encourage energy conservation while simultaneously paying minimum usage fees that penalize them for energy conservation. That’s why these minimum usage fees are so controversial.
One way to help consumers avoid minumum usage fees is by establishing standard offer products, which has been proposed by the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power. Under this proposal, retail electric providers would add standard offer products to their menu of other electricity deals. The terms and conditions would be set by the Public Utility Commission — but with input from consumers. As with their other electricity offers, REPs would be free to set their own price. You can find out more about standard offer products here.
The Texas Public Utility Commission also is sponsoring a statewide energy efficiency summit on Thursday, March 29, 2013. The hearing will be conducted in the Travis Building in Austin, 1701 N. Congress Avenue, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, check out project numbers 39674 and 33487 at the Public Utility Commission’s online interchange filing system, found here.
Is a policy analyst consultant for TCAP, a coalition of political subdivisions in Texas that purchase electricity in the deregulated market for their own governmental use. Because energy costs are typically a significant budget item to our members, TCAP is consistently looking for ways to save our members money, through cost-saving contracts, energy efficiency or demand response programs.
I am gone about 27 days of each month from my permanent residence, but yet my electric bill still runs me anywhere from 120- 150 a month, ridiculous…
I have a house that I visit once every couple of months due to my job. I have everything shut off when I am gone. My utility bill normally runs between $12 – $20 a month. This evening when I renewed my contract with Stream Energy, the confirmation stated they now had a minimum use charge of $9.95 for people that used less than 699 kwh. That will effectively increase my monthly bill by 50% to 80%. Not cool…
So not fair! About 8 months out of the year my usage is below 1000 kwh. Small house, one person, and they have the nerve to charge me $9.95 (Ambit Energy) usage fee. Its just plan stupid. How can they charge me for something I didn’t use? We need to speak up and stop this madness!
The “Go Green” conspiracy is nothing more than corporations and/or entities desire to charge more for less services and products. This a prime example. All the years of preaching to us about conservation and now they are penalizing those who have done it. The Texas Public Utilities Commission is working for corporations, not for the Texan citizens. Email them and voice your outrage at this unfair fee.