Time to switch power providers? Why waiting until after the Texas electricity crisis could be costly

HOUSTON – Like way too many people in Texas right now, KPRC 2 Consumer Expert Amy Davis has been facing power, water, and cell phone connection issues during this extreme power crisis.

As we experience another day of widespread outages, Amy’s been looking at information on switching power companies. Why? Not because it will get anyone’s lights on faster, but because residents and business owners could be out a lot of money if some electricity providers start to fold in the days ahead.

Amy is now sharing the information she’s gathered on her Facebook page.

KPRC 2 Amy Davis’ Facebook post on February 17, 2021

Bad cell connection won’t let me do a Facebook LIVE... so posting this for the latest info.

- As of 3:05pm Tuesday, CenterPoint Energy said they could not restore power to homes until more electricity is created. #ERCOT will not allow them to bring more customers back online. CenterPoint said customers without power should be prepared to have no power for several more days.

- These conditions in the electric industry mean we will likely start to see some retail electric providers (These are the companies you pay for electricity.) go out of business. If your electric provider abruptly closes, you will be stuck with what’s called the “Provider of Last Resort (POLR)” & a sky high electric rate of 25 to 30 cents a kilowatt.

In an emergency meeting Monday, the Public Utility Council raised the price of wholesale electricity to $9000 a megawatt. That is what the retail electric providers pay to get it. You would pay about $9 a kilowatt. And if you are on a variable rate plan or your fixed rate contract expires and you go month to month... that is the rate you would be facing. That factors out to something like $450 a day for the average homeowner. Multiply $450 by 30... and that would be your electric bill for one month.

Some electric providers are telling customers to please leave... even offering $100 off their last electric bills to encourage customers to go somewhere else. This is because those companies didn't buy enough electricity to continue to give it to you for the price you agreed to pay. Basically, they ran out... and if they have to buy more now, the electricity will cost them $9000 a megawatt... but because you're under contract, they have to give it to you for pennies. Those businesses can't sustain that... and they will just go under. If you get an offer or warning from your electric company- take it.. switch now. You do not want to be stuck with a provider of last resort.

Right now on the Power to Choose website, there are only about 27 plans for Houstonians to choose from. Usually there are 100+ plans. If your contract is coming up soon, lock in a new one.

Yeah. It stinks. Prepare yourself... and make sure you are locked in with a fixed rate. Even a high 15 cents a kilowatt right now is better than $9 a kilowatt.

If you need it, the Power to Choose website Amy mentioned can be found HERE.


How outages could impact your power bills?

About the Authors:

Passionate consumer advocate, mom of 3, addicted to coffee, hairspray and pastries.