The residential electricity market is fiercely competitive. In electricity customer choice states like Texas, the volume of marketing messages can be overwhelming. Electricity providers use television, radio, direct mail, online advertising, and other media to catch the attention of consumers. However, it sometimes seems that customers get far less attention from their current electricity provider near the end of their contract term than they did when they were a prospective customer.
The truth is that residential renewal rates are relatively high. The reasons customers decide to stay with their electricity supplier are varied. Some consumers remain with their electricity provider because they are satisfied with the service they have received. Reward programs, ease of interaction, or stellar customer service may play a role in these decisions. Other customers may decline to switch energy companies because they do not perceive the benefits of doing so will outweigh the time to shop and find a better electricity provider.
Electricity Renewal Rules
So, how does the electricity renewal process work? The Public Utility Commission of Texas has specific rules as to how your current electricity provider must notify you of your contract expiration and any renewal offers. The main points include:
- The electricity company must send a written notice of contract expiration between 30 and 60 days prior to the expiration date. The notice can be emailed if the customer has elected to receive notices electronically.
- If the customer takes no action, they default to a month-to-month electricity plan.
- The electricity provider can also include renewal offers with the contract expiration notice. Terms of Service and Electricity Facts Label documents must accompany each offer.
- Customers cannot be renewed on any plan other than a month-to-month electricity plan without their affirmative consent.
The most important aspect of these rules is the communication of the contract expiration date and that the consequences of not making a decision. The primary concern with not renewing with the current electricity provider or switching to a different provider is defaulting to month-to-month plans. While consumers can leave the plan at any time without penalty, they could be in for a shock if wholesale electricity prices skyrocket. Most energy consumers do not monitor the monthly prices and might not realize that prices have increased until they receive their electricity bill. It is generally a safer approach to be proactive and enroll in a fixed price plan.
Shopping for Power
Here are some suggestions for customers facing expiration of their current electric plan:
- Even if you are thrilled with your current provider, you should shop electricity rates to make sure that their renewal rates are competitive.
- Be sure to square up with your current provider on any unpaid balances due. Your ability to switch providers can be delayed or even blocked if you owe your electricity provider.
- It may pay to switch providers to get the lowest electricity rates. There are many reputable companies from which to choose and they often have incentives to entice new customers.
Shopping for great electricity rates is a quick and easy process. Investing just a few minutes at the end of your contract term can make a significant impact on lowering your electric bill.