By: L.M. Sixel |
If you’ve been shopping around for an electricity providers, the rates may be cheaper than they appear on Power to Choose, the website run by the Public Utility Commission of Texas.
A major component of electricity bills decreased nearly 6 percent in June for residential customers of CenterPoint, the utility that supplies power to homes in the Houston area. But some retail companies that sell power plans to consumers have been slow to reflect the lower regulatory cost in their own rates online.
CenterPoint lowered its transmission and distribution rates on June 15 to 3.8711 cents per kilowatt hour, reflecting lower infrastructure costs stemming from electricity deregulation 16 years ago. Before that, the rate had been 4.1084 cents per kilowatt hour. Consumers also pay a monthly fee of $5.47 which did not change.
The cost of utility transmission and distribution are passed directly through to customers. Retail electric providers also charge customers a price per kilowatt hour for energy.
Mid-American Energy Services listed the old transmission and distribution rate of 4.1084 cents on two plans it offered in Houston on Power to Choose last week, including one for 12 months of electricity and the other for 24 months. The plans were dated June 21, 2018, according to Mid-American’s electricity facts label.
Mid-American said in a statement that its transmission and distribution charges may reflect previous rates until it posts a new rate. Customers will always see the current charges on their bills, according to the company.
The two plans from Mid-American are no longer listed on Power to Choose in Houston. The company said it is refreshing its rates and plans to have offers posted again on Tuesday.
The Public Utility Commission regularly reviews offers on Power to Choose, said spokesman Andrew Barlow. If the plans aren’t calculated correctly or transmission and distribution charges haven’t been updated, the commission asks the providers to fix the problems, he said.
Cirro Energy, a retail electric provider owned by NRG Energy, was slow to revise one of its plans, Smart Lock 12, to reflect the lower transmission and distribution rate. The plan, which was available on Power to Choose last week, was issued June 13, according to the electricity facts label, two days before the regulatory charges were reduced.
The plan is no longer available on Power to Choose.
Cirro Energy has a process that updates the electricity fact labels about once a month but Smart Lock 12 had not yet been updated, said spokeswoman Pat Hammond. However, customers were billed the correct amount that reflected the new charges, she said.