For more than a decade, Watchdog has taught thousands of Texans how to shop for cheap electricity from trusted companies that do not fool consumers.
When deregulation began around the turn of the century, there was a lot of confusion. That’s why I started distributing my version of how-to-shop instructions. By then, I had worked to convince others that TXU Energy, which was a monopoly before deregulation, was no longer the end and the end.
My training is always based on the proper use of the state-sponsored shopping website www.PowerToChoose.org. But I’m not the only one with ideas. Many others use other techniques.
After posting my latest story earlier this month, I heard from Texans who have their own thoughts. They are worth sharing, so with their permission, here are the highlights.
Josh Gruber of Dallas: “The main problem is the proliferation of companies and the lack of ways to judge their honesty or credibility. In some ways, the PowerToChoose.org website makes it worse because it does not provide a deeper way to compare companies. If not checked well, forget it.
“Is there a monthly fee? What is the rate per kWh for different levels of energy consumption? Are there any discounts or gimmicks? I find the process painful, complicated, depressing and time consuming.
William Newbill of Plano: “There are no good deals on PowerToChoose.org. I have a new strategy: find the best fixed rate with the lowest penalty for cancellation. I think break-the-contract drama is a less expensive strategy. Variable rates skyrocket and a few months of it can exceed the $ 175 cancellation fee.
Jason Minsky of Dallas: “You may want to encourage people to look at 5-year plans and hope to cancel when rates return to normal in the future. This is an 87% increase over my current plan but it could be 200%.
Elaine Eckmark: “You go to TexasPowerGuide.com and put your address. You fill out the monthly amount of kWh usage for a period of 12 months. Then you tap the enter button and a list of power retailers will pop up. You can’t see a supplier’s name without paying a $ 9.95 one-time fee. That fee is good for six months.
“Always choose a fixed rate and get your renewal date between January and April. Never in the summer. They will also monitor your electricity usage and if the algorithm finds a cheaper plan – even with the contract coming out early – they will tell you so you can switch to that plan. You should send them an email and request a supervision.
Kathy Boore of Plano: “I knew we were going to have electricity with Wild Ride, and I opted for a 3-year contract with the Texas Power Switch. The original rate of 6.7 cents a kWh grew to an actual rate of 10.9 cents kWh after a nasty hidden charge. There is absolutely no risk. They will add you to the pool, get the rate and you won’t take it.
Mark Kerins of Dallas: “I couldn’t believe what a headache it was to find a lot of projects that work for me. Look at your bills from last year to get a sense of how much electricity you actually use. If the costs are low and you don’t use a ton of electricity then that’s fine for you.
Midlothian Carl Langbein: “When shopping for a provider, get confirmation in writing by email or text, along with a copy of the actual contract, where possible, before signing a new contract.”
Brian Cruise of Princeton: “Watchdog, why don’t you mention looking for power companies that offer monthly credits? Most people are neglecting the monthly loan. The strategy I use is to find a company that offers good monthly credit in the 1,000 to 2,000 kWh range. I currently get $ 95 credit on each bill.
Richard Bach of Garland: “Another thing to look at in the plans is the basic fee, which is usually $ 9.95 per month in many plans. This can be a killer for low-power users like me.
Such a great variety of tips from members of my Watchdog Nation.
Remember, many people pay more for power in Texas because they don’t spend time shopping. It doesn’t have to be yourself. Watchdog thinks that electricity prices in Texas are higher than they ever were, which helps.
Become a Citizen of Watchdog Nation.
Join Dave Lieber and learn how to become a super-customer.
Watchdog Newsletter: Sign up for Watchdog’s free weekly newsletter to continue: click here.
Subscribe: Please support the brand of direct journalism watchdog designed to save you time, money and surge. Treat yourself to a digital subscription (and make him look good!) By visiting https://dallasnews.com/subscribe
Watchdog Home: You can’t miss two reports of The Watchdog every week. Always follow our latest report The Watchdog Homepage containing all the latest columns.
Watch this free training video from Dave: https://youtu.be/uhUEUCNKGjc
Facebook: Connect with Watchdog on our Facebook group. Search for “DallasNews Watchdog Posse”.
Dallas Morning News The Watchdog column won the 2019 top prize for column writing by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. The competition judges called their winning entries “models of suspenseful storytelling and public service.”
Read their winning columns:
* Helping widow of Dallas police officer JD Tippitt killed by Lee Harvey Oswald to be buried beside her late husband
* Helping a damaged waitress from an unscrupulous used car dealer