Houston Consumer Choice

“Urban Myths” about Residential Electricity

1. Changing suppliers is too much of a hassle.
Most suppliers allow you to sign up by phone or over the Internet and the whole process should take no more than 15 to 20 minutes.
2. I haven't switched because I'm willing to pay more for better reliability.
Your reliability is not affected. The "wires" into your home are owned and maintained by CenterPoint and they don't care who your electric supplier is. If your power goes off in a storm, it won't come back on any faster if you haven't switched.
3. I would have tried one of the other suppliers but I'm afraid they’ll go out of business and my power will get disconnected.
If you do choose a new provider and they go bankrupt or choose to leave the market, your electricity will not be interrupted. When this happens, you will be transferred to the Provider of last Resort (POLR) and the power will continue as normal. If this does happen, it's important that you choose another supplier as soon as possible because the rates charged by the POLR are significantly higher than other options in the market.
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4. I'm happy with my present supplier so why should I switch ?
It's not important that you switch, but it is important that you understand your options and that you decide to stay with your current provider or choose a new one.
5. How do I know what plan to pick?
Switching gives you the chance to find an electricity plan that meets your needs. A "Fixed Price" plan gives you certainty against future price increases but may not be the lowest price all the time. A "Variable Price" plan should reflect current prices in the market but may change from one month to the next. A "Renewable" plan uses environmentally friendly sources of electricity and may cost a little more than the other alternatives but it allows you to support the growth of Renewable electricity and reduce the pollution associated with other forms of electric generation.
6. Can I really save enough money to bother with switching?
At the current price, the average Houstonian spends over $2,000 per year on electricity. Saving 10% saves you $200 that you can spend on other things. Do you think it's worth 30 minutes of your time to make $200? If so, you should switch.
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7. I really like the service I get from my current supplier. If I have questions or problems, they take care of me. How do I know some other company will do the same?
All of the Companies participating in the City's Initiative had to meet certain requirements to be qualified. One of these was customer service. If they had too many complaints, they weren't eligible. We did this to ensure that if you decide to switch, you will continue to receive good customer service when you need it.
8. Are there other options available to me?
There are. In order to participate in the City’s Initiative, companies had to meet specific requirements relating to financial strength, customer service and years in business. There are other companies serving Houston that are not listed on this website. We have sought to keep the options shown here simple and easy to understand. Some of the participating companies may have other service plans not shown here. For a full list of Companies serving Houston and the Service plans available, you can go to www.PowerToChoose.org.
9. Is there somewhere I can get more information about my Rights and how Choice works?
Yes, The website above, www.PowerToChoose.org, is sponsored by the Public Utility Commission of Texas and contains detailed information about the rules governing Electric Competition here in Texas and your rights as a consumer.
10. Why is the City of Houston conducting the Consumer Choice Initiative if the Public Utility Commission already has its own website with most of the same information?
Mayor Bill White views energy and its potential impact on the citizens of Houston as a matter of critical importance. At the end of 2006, the Price to Beat will expire and there will no longer be a regulated price available in the market. Mayor White wants to ensure that all consumers are aware of their right to choose and possess the tools necessary to exercise this right knowledgably prior to the expiration of Price to Beat.

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