TXU Energy launched prepaid electricity service Tuesday, bringing a product that was once on the fringes of the market squarely into the mainstream.

TXU, a unit of Energy Future Holdings, said Tuesday in a news release it will offer a pay-as-you-go pricing plan that doesn’t require customers to make deposits. TXU charges 11.3 cents per kilowatt hour for the service, less than some prepaid plans, but customers can find better deals by shopping for standard plans.

While a TXU spokesman and other industry officials say the prepaid service gives customers greater flexibility and control of their light bills, consumer advocates say they hate the idea.

“The people who are selling it are acting like this is a service that everybody wants, that’s desirable,” said Carol Biedrzycki, executive director of Texas Ratepayers’ Organization to Save Energy.

But, she said, “You’re going to take this service because you don’t have money for a security deposit. You’re not going to take it because it sounds like such a great idea.”

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