Like when you sign up for a cell phone, insurance, or a mortgage, it is important to read the fine print before choosing an electricity plan in Texas. But sometimes you may find it difficult to get the information you need. Enter the Electricity Facts Label, a fact sheet that presents information about retail electricity plans in a standardized format, providing you with the information you need to compare and choose.
What is an Electricity Facts Label?
Comparing offers amongst retail electric providers in Texas can be confusing, as many retailers display information about their plans differently. In order to help consumers make "apples to apples" comparisons among similar electricity offers, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) requires Texas retail electricity providers (REPs) to display information about each of their plans in a standardized format, known as an Electricity Facts Label (EFL). All REPs must be able to provide an EFL for each of their plans to customers upon request.
Like the nutrition labels found on food products, the EFL allows Texas consumers to compare and make informed choices about their electricity supply. Whereas a nutrition label provides information about calories, fat, and vitamins, the EFL provides information about prices, contract terms, generation sources, and emission levels.
Electricity Facts Label Breakdown
Any Electricity Facts Label should contain the following information:
- Electricity Price: the EFL should display the average cost of electricity in cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), at 500 kWh/month, 1000 kWh/month, and 1,500 kWh/month (or 2,000 kWh) consumption levels. These amounts represent typical consumption amounts for residential customers. The average cost of electricity includes transmission and distribution charges on behalf of your local utility, along with any incentives or promotions. This part of the EFL should also indicate the monthly base charge, if applicable. Note that taxes and fees charged by local municipalities are not included in the average electricity price.
- Contract Information: the EFL should indicate the contract length along with the amount of any early cancellation fees charged. It should also state whether the contract price can change, and if so, by how much.
- Sources of Power Generation: the EFL should indicate the % renewable content, along with how this compares to the Texas average.
- Emissions & Waste per kWh Generated: the EFL may also outline the predicted percentage and type of emissions released from the production of electricity based on its power generation sources,
- Other Key Terms & Questions: in most cases the EFL will refer customers to the Terms of Service Agreement for a fuller list of terms, fees, and security deposit policies.
Top Three Tips for Choosing a Retail Electric Provider in Texas
Here are our top three tips for choosing an electric provider in Texas
- Know your average consumption. Electricity charges can vary depending on power consumption levels, so having an idea of how much electricity you use in a month will allow you to more accurately estimate your monthly costs. It's also a good idea to keep a record of your monthly bills so that you know how much your consumption changes month by month. As many REPs charge a minimum usage fee, understanding your consumption patterns over the course of a year will also allow help you choose a plan that works for you.
- Identify your preferences. With so many options for your electric provider, the amount of choice in Texas can almost be overwhelming. To help you decide, is a good idea to know what is most important to you: saving money, paying a stable price, supporting green energy, and/or strong customer service? Identifying and prioritizing what you are looking for will help you filter options and make the decision for your electricity that you can be happy with.
- Check out customer reviews. Once you've narrowed down your choice to a few plans, you may find it helpful to check out what other customers say about the retail electricity providers that you're interested in.