Reading the Fine Print in a Texas Residential Electricity Contract
The deregulation of the residential electricity market in Texas has brought about consumer choices, but there is so much choice that it can be confusing. Fortunately, we at CallMePower.com are here to make shopping for electricity simple.
There are three important documents that you need to pay attention to when shopping for electricity. While reading through them may be time consuming and feel unecessary, nowhere is the saying "the devil is in the details" more true than in the case of electricity. Make sure to read each document carefully before signing the contract for your electricity.
Did You Know? The PUC requires that all information about electricity be made available in at least English AND Spanish, along with any language in which customers might have been solicited.
The Electricity Facts Label
In response to complaints that it was difficult to make "apples to apples" comparisons between electricity contracts, the Public Utilities Commission of Texas made it mandatory for all retail electric providers to present information about their contract offers in a standardized manner, on what is called an Electricity Facts Label. This document is intended to allow Texans to make informed choices about their power supply and compare contracts.
All Texas REP are required to show an electricity facts label about each of their contract options. The EFL must disclose the following information:
- The average cost of electricity (in cents/kWh). The EFL should state at which level of consumption this price applies to (i.e. is it the price for 2,000 kWh monthly consumption? For 1,000 kWh?)
- The length of the contract
- Whether there are any termination fees
- Whether the price can change during the duration of the contract, and if so, by how much and under what circumstances
- Any additional fees you may be charged (e.g. late payment fees, collection fees, disconnection/reconnection fees, etc)
- How much of the energy you purchase is sourced from renewable content
- The REP's contact information
Want more information about the EFL? Check out our article on Everything You Need to Know About an Electricity Facts Label
Terms and Conditions
The terms and conditions (or Terms of Service) of your contract are important to read because they - along with the Your Rights As a Consumer document - outline your rights and responsibilities as a consumer, and those of your REP. Some of the important information to look out for in the terms and conditions include:
- Descriptions of any non-recurring charges that you may incur, along with the REP's security deposit policy
- How to cancel your contract and under what conditions you will/will not have to pay an early termination fee
- Information about what will happen to your contract once it ends (in most cases, REP reserve the right to switch you automatically to a month-to-month variable price
- Information about your Rights of Recission (see below)
- Contact information for the REP
Find more information about common terms and conditions you can find on electricity contracts.
Your Rights As a Consumer (YRAC)
This document helps explain what to expect from your REP, as it describes all of the PUC rules about customer rights for electricity service. It is a good idea to read it through at least once, but as all Texas REP rules must follow the same rules for consumer rights, you can probably get away with not reading each YRAC document that accompanies the plans that you are researching. The YRAC document outlines some of the following information:
- Information about financial assistance
- Information about language
- REP contact information
Though you don't need to read through the YRAC document every time you look at a new contract, it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities as a consumer, as well as those of your REP. You can find out more information about your consumer rights in our dedicated article.