Shopping for electricity? If you have a computer, and you live in Texas, then your first stop should be powertochoose.com. Operated by the Texas Public Utility Commission, the non-profit website provides unbiased information about retail electric companies and their offers.
At powertochoose.com you’ll find comparative information about company rates, terms of service and complaints. There’s also great tips about buying electricity, including tips on what to ask sales representatives.
TCAP supports powertochoose.com and has even advised the PUC on ways to improve the website. One important advantage we see relates to the transparency of its operations. There are other electric shopping websites in Texas, but these are for-profit operations that may have pay-to-play deals with retail electric companies. You can never be sure with these other websites why some electric companies receive favorable listings, while others are excluded altogether.
But there’s no reason to believe that powertochoose.com is playing favorites. In fact, you should think twice before purchasing power from a company that’s not listed on powertochoose. Reputable electric companies offering fair deals will want to make sure they’re listed on the website. If a company doesn’t want the exposure on powertochoose.com, you have to wonder why.
But what should you do if you don’t have easy access to a computer? The PUC also operates a toll-free help line, 866-797-4839 (866 PWR4TEX). Call between 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays. After hours you can leave a message. An agency representative will quiz you about your power needs and then send via regular mail a list of electric offers. You also can call the toll free number if you have access to the website, but still have questions.
One final note. TCAP remains concerned about the continued viability of powertochoose. For many years Texas retail electric providers were required by law to include a notice on bills that advised customers about the website. In 2011, however, lobbyists for retail electric providers helped block a bill in the Texas Legislature that would have continued that requirement. So a growing number of Texans may be unaware of the website.
In addition, the pot of dollars the PUC uses to operate and promote the website will be depleted in a couple of years. A representative of the PUC tells TCAP that “there is every expectation that (the website) will continue, although alternative funding will need to be found.” That’s the good news. But just to be sure, we would encourage anyone who has shopped at powertochoose to express their support to their local lawmaker or to the PUC. The PUC can be reached online at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find your local lawmaker, go here.
ABOUT the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power
TCAP is a coalition of more than 165 cities and other political subdivisions that purchase electricity in the deregulated market for their own governmental use. Because high energy costs can impact municipal budgets and the ability to fund essential services, TCAP, as part of its mission, actively promotes affordable energy policies. High energy prices also place a burden on local businesses and home consumers.
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.