There’s some smart money placing big bets on a rebound for oil. Blackstone Group LP BX, -5.27% President Hamilton “Tony” James said last month that the company was “scrambling” to invest up to $10 billion in energy companies, according to Bloomberg. Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman said during the company’s earnings call on Jan. 29 that the majority of Blackstone’s energy investments were “oil-price agnostic, including energy-transportation infrastructure where we have off-take agreements, merchant power, renewables and other types of energy-oriented investing.”
On the one hand, long-term, fixed-rate (contract) plans offer stability in pricing. If energy supply costs suddenly go up in your area, you won’t be left paying more than what you bargained for. You’ll have peace-of-mind. If you want to switch out of your contract before it ends with a lower cost plan, you’ll likely face a cancellation fee (early termination fee).
PPL Electric Utilities services over 1.4 million electricity customers in the central and eastern Pennsylvania counties of Lancaster, Lehigh, Pike, Monroe, Carbon, Schuylkill, Dauphin, Cumberland, Perry, Juniata, Northumberland, Snyder, Union, Clinton, Lycoming, Montour, Columbia, Luzerne, Lackawana and Wayne. The current PPL Price to Compare for electricity supply is 7.439¢ per kWh — effective 12/1/16 through 5/31/17.
To skirt the late summer electricity rate hikes, a little bit of planning can really pay off. Try to avoid signing new long-term electricity contracts in late summer. While it may be impossible to escape signing a new electricity contract if you’re moving during that time, just know that a short-term plan may make more sense until the rates go back down in the fall. That way you’re not stuck paying a premium rate for an entire year or more.
For example, shoppers for Texas electricity plans in the 77494 ZIP code in Katy, TX, could find 12-month plans for 6.8 cents/kWh in February; by June, electricity rates had increased 27 percent to 9.3 cents/kWh. As of early September, 12-month plans were up again, to 9.9 cents/kWh – a 6.5 percent hike from June and a 46 percent increase just since February.
Fixed-Rate Plans: These plans are steady and predictable; the price per kWh you sign up for will remain that same for the entirety of your contract. (The only changes in your bill will be from forces outside of your REP's control, like changes in TDU fees, or changes in federal, state, or local laws.) Often fixed-rate plans will have a slightly higher price per kWh than others, but you're paying for the predictability. They're great if you live by your budget – and even greater if you happen to sign up when rates are low. The fixed-rate plans of our five Texas providers typically started at 12 months, with some extending up to three years, but we spotted a couple from Reliant that offered fixed rates for six month contracts as well.
When you decide to switch, and have got the ball rolling with your new supplier, you should settle any outstanding debts. If you have bills that are more than 28 days old, you might find that you can’t change supplier until you’ve paid them. But there are some exceptions to the 28 days – for example, if you are less than £200 in debt, then your switch could still go ahead as normal
It is not a well-known fact that consumers can take advantage of energy deregulation and choose an alternative energy supplier, known as an Energy Service Company (ESCO). In addition to offering lower electricity and gas rates, an ESCO can provide other energy options, not otherwise available by your local traditional utility company, such as renewable green energy (solar, wind or hydropower) and fixed-rate plans. Energy deregulation allows residents and businesses to shop around for energy, compare electricity and gas rates, find the cheapest providers and easily switch electricity and gas suppliers online. Compare ESCOs and their rates, choose the cheapest electricity or gas provider, and you can reduce your energy expense, such as Con Edison electric or gas bill, if you live in New York City, or United Illuminating or Eversource bill if you live in Connecticut or Public Service Electric and Gas, Jersey Central Power and Light, Atlantic City Electric, Rockland Electric Company bill if you live in New Jersey. PowerSetter specializes in educating New York, New Jersey and Connecticut residents about comparing electricity and gas providers, and making switching energy suppliers an easy and painless process. In addition to offering tools to compare energy rates, PowerSetter only selects plans with no hidden monthly and/or enrollment fees and works with the most reliable and trusted alternative electric and gas companies.
Electric bills for customers in the Houston area can more than double in summer months, mainly because air conditioning. Not coincidentally, electric rates also rise in the summer months because of this increase in demand. The most dramatic rate increases occur in month-to-month plans, but electric rates do increase across the board for all fixed-rate contract lengths.
The complaints filed against providers aren't a perfect mirror of the J.D. Power customer satisfactions scores. Just Energy, which earned only two J.D. Power Circles and earned the second-lowest score, had only 21 complaints recorded with the Public Utility Commission. But it's helpful to view these complaints in aggregate: Over 50 percent of the 1,119 total complaints fall under "billing" — another reason to seek out a provider with high customer satisfaction in that area in particular.
Residential real-time pricing customers pay electric supply prices that vary by the hour. To make a meaningful comparison between variable RRTP rates and RES offers, customers should compare their past electric supply cost savings from the total Electric Supply section of the bill, provided by their RRTP provider, with an electric supply cost savings estimate provided by RESs. Alternatively, customers can compute their average real-time hourly price in cents per kWh (each month the average real-time price is equal to the total of the Electric Supply section of the bill divided by the monthly kWh) to compare with RES offers posted in cents per kWh. Customer should bear in mind, however, that because RRTP rates vary over time, past savings do not predict future savings, but only serve as a guide to compare past performance.
In Maryland, you have the power to choose your electricity and natural gas suppliers. More than 500,000 Marylanders have already switched energy suppliers. Need a good reason to switch? Some suppliers regularly offer rates and service that are 10% or more cheaper than the utility. Things could get worse - Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. has proposed a rate increase it says would boost the average residential customer's total bill by $5.77 per month. A recent Choose Energy survey found that more than 86 percent say they've never chosen a competitive Maryland electricity plan, meaning they're probably paying more than they have to for energy. Don't pay more. Just enter your ZIP code above to see how you can begin saving with Choose Energy!
Some good news: According to J.D. Power’s 2016 survey on retail electric providers (its most current survey of the space), Texas has the highest overall satisfaction with retail electric providers out of any state. And because rates, plans, and offers can be so similar from provider to provider, customer satisfaction scores are a great way to break a tie. Think of it like choosing who to hire when you have two candidates with similar resumes — you’re going to pick the person with the glowing references.
As they’re advertised, the Digital Discount plan appears to save you $4 — but only if you use 32 percent of your energy on the weekends, which is the stat Reliant used to create the average price it advertises. Say you often travel for business during the week, and are only home cranking the air conditioner on weekends. If your energy use skews to 55 percent weekend use (for Reliant, that means 8 pm on Friday through 12 am Monday), suddenly Truly Free Weekends becomes a much better deal.
You can organize and shop by pricing at YOUR individual usage level, which allows you to shop and compare energy plans based on the rates you’ll actually see appear on your bill, inclusive of taxes and hidden fees. You won’t be misled by the “teaser rates” tied with higher usage levels that many homes never experience, as their usage level never reaches that pricing tier.
The Texas Senate Bill 7, passed in 2002, gave 5.6 million Texans the power to choose a retail electric provider (REP) to supply electricity to their home or business. This bill facilitated a competitive energy marketplace that 85 percent of Texans can capitalize on today. Energy choice is available to residents in Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth as well as other cities in Texas.
1. Contracts: Before, there were no contracts. You signed up or you didn’t. When it’s the only game in town, you have to play by their rules. Nowadays, you’ll see these ultra-fabulous rates bandied about but it’s only by carefully scrutinizing the fine print that you’ll discover those wonderful rates come with a one-year lock-down or other catches.