FAQ

  • What is electricity deregulation?
    • After legislation by the government was passed, the key parts (generation, transmission and distribution, and retail sales) of the electricity market opened up to multiple competitors, giving consumers and businesses the power to choose. By opening up the market for several electricity providers to compete with each other, the government deregulated energy.
  • I live in or am moving to Texas. Is my area deregulated?
    • There are several cities in Texas that have been deregulated. To see if your area is deregulated and find electricity provider options, please visit the Service Areas page.
  • Do I have to pay Shop Texas Electricity to sign up with an electricity provider?
    • No, you do not have to pay us to use our site or select an electricity provider of your choice.
  • What factors control the cost of electricity?
    • Electricity rates are determined on a few factors. The PUC (Public Utilities Commission) determines the base rate that electric generator companies must charge. The retail companies add their fees to that rate for customer service and other unique offers.
  • What has stayed the same in electric service?
    • Your current Transmission and Distribution Utility, or "local wires company," continues to deliver electricity to your home. Your local wires company still responds to service interruptions and continues to maintain the poles and wires. You will continue to receive the same reliable service you are used to with your local wires company, regardless of which Retail Electric Provider you receive service from.
  • What has changed in electric service?
    • You can now choose to buy your electricity from a different electric provider than the original provider for your area. These companies are called Retail Electric Providers. Additionally, your bill now looks different than bills you have received in the past, but each Retail Electric Provider provides the same standard information.
  • What cities in Texas can choose their electric provider?
    • Competition is active in several cities in Texas.
  • Will my service be disconnected if I switch my electricity provider?
    • Your service will not be disconnected if you switch your electricity provider. . Before you are switched, you will receive written confirmation in the mail. You will receive your first electric bill from your new Retail Electric Provider on the following billing cycle.
  • What are the benefits of Electric Choice?
    • Texas' electric rates are average compared to rates across the rest of the country, but our usage is among the highest in the nation due to demand for air conditioning during the long, hot summer season. Competition in other industries has often brought lower prices and innovative, new products and services. Having more control over your buying decision should make it easier to determine what matters most to you, whether it is prices, renewable or green energy sources, customer service or simply a name you know.
      Electric competition also should help the environment because Retail Electric Providers may offer electricity from environmentally-clean energy sources. Generating electricity from renewable sources such as wind produces less air pollution than generation that relies on burning coal or natural gas. Natural gas is considered a "clean" fuel source in Texas, since it produces fewer emissions than coal.
  • With competition, will the reliability of my electric service change?
    • No. No matter which Retail Electric Provider you choose, your electricity will continue to be delivered safely and reliably by the local wires company, a company still regulated by the PUC.
  • Will my bill look different with Electric Choice?
    • Yes. Your Retail Electric Provider is responsible for customer service functions such as billing. The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) has established rules requiring Retail Electric Providers to provide you with a bill that is easy to read. For example, your bill will be issued monthly, you will receive a paper bill via U.S. Mail, and you have the choice of receiving your bill electronically, if both you and your Retail Electric Provider agree. It is up to Retail Electric Providers to design their bills; however, there are many bill components they are required to include. Please refer to our Fact Sheet on Bill Formats for more information on your electric bill.
  • Will my bill be itemized?
    • It is up to Retail Electric Providers to design their bills. How they decide to itemize charges is up to them.
  • Whom do I call with a billing question?
    • You should contact your Retail Electric Provider.
  • How are billing disputes resolved?
    • Billing disputes should be directed to your Retail Electric Provider. If disputes cannot be resolved, please contact the Public Utility Commission of Texas customer hotline toll-free at 1-888-PUC-TIPS (1-888-782-8477).
  • What portion of my electric bill am I shopping for?
    • The portion you are shopping for is the total price per kilowatt-hour (kWh), which will help you compare offers from Retail Electric Providers. Each Retail Electric Provider must provide an "Electricity Fact Label," which is designed to show the cost of electricity at various levels of consumption, taking into account all of the costs of producing and delivering electricity. It will probably be easier for you to compare offers from different Retail Electric Providers by looking at the total charges in the Electricity Facts Label. Contact each provider you are interested in and request a copy of their Electricity Facts Label to compare offers and determine which is best for your family.
  • Is there a penalty for changing providers?
    • No. There is no switching fee unless you request a special meter reading at a time other than your regularly scheduled meter reading. There may also be penalties if you break an existing contract with your current Retail Electric Provider. Review your Terms of Service agreement for details.
  • If I sign up with a new Retail Electric Provider, when will the
    switch to that company happen?
    • Customers can choose a Retail Electric Provider at any time; however, you will not begin to receive power from your new Retail Electric Provider until after your next regularly scheduled meter reading. Before you are switched, you will receive written confirmation in the mail. You will receive your first electric bill from your new Retail Electric Provider on the following billing cycle.
  • Do I have a right to cancel?
    • Yes. You may cancel within three days from when you receive your Terms of Service agreement by contacting the Retail Electric Provider. If you are hand-delivered a terms of service agreement or you sign up for service using the Internet, there is a three-day cancellation period. The confirmation that will be mailed to you will also provide a way to cancel your switch.
  • What happens if my Retail Electric Provider stops serving customers?
    • You will not be without electricity. In most cases, your Retail Electric Provider will give you 30 days' advance notice to give you time to select a new provider. If your provider goes out of business suddenly, your electric service will be switched automatically to the "Provider of Last Resort" (POLR). POLR service is meant to be a temporary fix until you switch to another electric provider, and POLR service typically has very high rates compared to standard market offers. Use this Web site to shop for a new provider and ask the POLR to do an early meter read - this will cost a few dollars up front but will allow you to get switched to a lower-rate provider more quickly than waiting for your next regularly-scheduled meter read. If you do not switch to a new provider, you will remain with the POLR and have to pay its higher rates, so it's important to shop and switch providers as soon as possible.
  • If I do not choose an electric provider, who will supply my electricity?
    • If you decided not to choose a new Retail Electric Provider, your service is being provided by the Affiliate Retail Electric Provider. The Affiliate Retail Electric Provider is the electric provider that was part of the original electric company that generated and sold electricity in your area, that now only sells electricity and provides customer service.
  • How do I know which providers are providing service in my area?
    • You can see which companies are providing electric service in your area by visiting the "Compare offers now" page. Or, you can call our toll-free Answer Center at 1-866-PWR-4-TEX (1-866-797-4839) and we will send a list of providers to you. Providers may also contact you directly to market their services.
  • Do I have to tell my current Retail Electric Provider that I'm switching providers?
    • To switch your electric service to a new provider, contact the Retail Electric Provider of your choice. Your new Retail Electric Provider will send you a "Terms of Service" agreement that provides details of the service offerings and terms. You do not need to contact your current Retail Electric Provider.
  • What are my rights as an electric customer?
    • You have the right to choose an electric provider, which includes the right to be served by the Affiliate Retail Electric Provider (the electric provider that was part of the original Retail Electric Provider that generated and sold electricity in your area, that now only sells electricity). No matter which electric provider you choose, the Public Utility Commission (PUC) will continue to protect your rights.
      If you feel that your rights have been violated, call the PUC's toll-free Customer Hotline at 1-888-PUC-TIPS (1-888-782-8477). Your rights include:
      • • Non-Discrimination: In addition to standard discrimination prohibitions, a Retail Electric Provider may not deny service or discriminate in the marketing of electric service based on a customer's income level, location in an economically distressed area, or qualification for low-income or energy efficiency services.
      • • Slamming and Cramming: Slamming is switching your electric service provider without your permission. Cramming is adding charges to your electric bill for optional services without your permission. Both slamming and cramming are illegal.
      • • Dispute Resolution: Retail Electric Providers must promptly investigate customer complaints and customers have the right to make complaints about a Retail Electric Provider to the Public Utility Commission.
      • • Privacy of Information: Retail Electric Providers cannot release any customer-specific information to other Retail Electric Providers or any other companies without your permission.
      • • In addition, all Retail Electric Providers must follow a new set of customer protections, by providing:
      • • An Electricity Facts Label: This gives a Retail Electric Provider's pricing information, contract terms, sources of generation and levels of emissions in a standardized format so that you can compare Retail Electric Provider offers.
      • • A Terms of Service agreement: This is your contract. It informs you of a Retail Electric Provider's contract terms and conditions.
      • • A "Your Rights as a Customer" disclosure: This informs you of your standard customer protections as mandated by the PUC.
      • • Non-English language materials: All Retail Electric Providers must make customer information available in Spanish. Additionally, a Retail Electric Provider must make all materials available in the language(s) in which they market electric service.
  • When registering online, why am I asked for my email address?
    • The Texas PUC requests your email address so that we may send correspondence about the Texas "No Call Lists." Your email address allows us to send instant registration confirmation. In addition, you will also receive a notification when your three-year or five-year registration is about to expire. At that time, you will have an opportunity to renew your registration. The PUC or Gryphon Networks Corp., the company that maintains the lists, will not use your email address for any other purpose, nor will it be provided to any third party.
  • Will putting my name on either/both lists stop all telemarketing calls?
    • The intent of the legislation is to stop unwanted telemarketing calls to customers from companies with whom the customer does not have an existing business relationship. However, customers with existing business relationships may continue to receive calls from these companies. In addition, customers with prior business relationships may receive calls from businesses with which they did business up to one year after the relationship was terminated. Also, if a customer requests contact from a company, the company may respond to that request. Non-profit and political organizations also are exempt from complying with the list.
  • With competition, will the reliability of my electric service change?
    • No. No matter which Retail Electric Provider you choose, your electricity will continue to be delivered safely and reliably by the local wires company, a company still regulated by the Public Utility Commission.
  • Whom do I call if I have an outage?
    • You should call your Retail Electric Provider immediately at the toll-free number that is listed on your electric bill.
  • My Retail Electric Provider is not based in my area. Who will repair the poles and wires in my neighborhood?
    • No matter which Retail Electric Provider sells you electricity, the actual delivery of electricity to your home across poles and wires is provided to you by your local wires company. The local wires company is responsible for maintaining the poles and wires and responding to emergencies and power outages, as always. The Public Utility Commission continues to regulate this delivery of electricity to ensure the safety and reliability of your electric service.
  • Can my electricity be disconnected for nonpayment?
    • Yes. You will receive a termination notice giving you 10 days to pay the bill or make payment arrangements.
  • What is Slamming?
    • Slamming is the illegal practice of switching your electric service without your permission.
  • What is Cramming?
    • Cramming is the illegal practice of adding charges to your electric bill for additional services without your permission.

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