Category Archives: Innovation

Inside the charts: Prices available in the competitive market today well below the last regulated rates

 

This chart, comparing offers available in the competitive market to the last regulated price, is one of AECT’s most viewed and used sets of data. We’ve published some version of it periodically since 2007.

Market Offers Comparison June16 to Dec01Click to enlarge in a new tab

We created this chart to create a relatively direct comparison between what customers had available just before the market opened in January 2002, and what price they can find on the market today. That’s why we averaged all the offers available on Power to Choose where you can get a locked-in, all-in rate for a full year, since that’s similar in concept to a regulated rate. The lowest available offer of that type is shown, along with month-to-month variable offers, to provide a sense of what else is available.

More Than Electricity Prices
The competitive market has brought significant innovation in retail products. Today, customers can choose plans selling 100% renewable generation, time-of-use prices that fit their lifestyles, rewards and rebate-based products and many others. The PUC is studying ways to improve Power to Choose, but the site does allow you to narrow down your choices, to help you find the right retail electric provider (REP) and plan.

Questions to Consider When Choosing Electric Service
For customers who haven’t shopped for electricity in a while, or for those who are new to a competitive area of Texas, here’s a useful checklist of questions to ask. Also, don’t hesitate to contact your current REP to see if there’s a product available that better fits your needs.

  • Do you want your electricity to be from renewable resources?
  • Do you want a fixed or variable price?
  • How long will the contract be, and is there a cancellation fee?
  • Will there be a deposit? How much?
  • How long has the REP been operating?
  • How is the REP’s customer service?
  • Does the REP offer sign-up incentives or rewards programs?
  • Does the REP offer information or tools to help you manage your electricity use?
  • Does the REP offer additional programs or discounts that you might be eligible for?
  • Is the REP involved in your community?

 

AECT Supports Proposition 1

Proposition 1 is the constitutional amendment providing for the use and dedication of certain money transferred to the state highway fund to assist in the completion of transportation construction, maintenance and rehabilitation projects, not to include toll roads.

YesProp1

AECT strongly supports passage of Proposition 1 to keep our state’s infrastructure strong. 

Early voting runs from October 20 through October 31. Last day to apply for ballot by mail (received, not postmarked) is October 24. If you’re not early voting, get out to the polls on November 4 to support Prop 1!

For more information, “like” Texas Infrastructure Now on Facebook, “follow” them on Twitter and visit their website at http://www.infrastructuretexas.org/.

Electric Generation in Texas is Much, Much Cleaner Than You May Realize

The Texas electric industry ensures Texans are able to come home to air-conditioned houses, working appliances to prepare warm meals and a television to catch up on the events of the day. Electric generators also operate with intentional consideration given to the environment, letting Texans enjoy the outdoors, clean air included. In fact, Texas is among the nationwide leaders in low emissions rates, and the state’s fleet of electric generators does its part to maintain this standing.

The emissions created as byproducts of power plants include nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2), which are known as “criteria emissions,” and are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA also has begun regulating carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Power plants are not the sole source of these air emissions: cars on the road, industrial manufacturing plants and even natural plant processes have high emissions rates.

Data from the EPA’s Air Markets Program shows that Texas electric generating plants emit less NOx, SO2 and CO2 per unit of power generated than the US average. This can be attributed to Texas’ relatively new, well-maintained electric generation fleet.

NOXSO2CO2Map

Although it is easy to recognize the speed at which the population of Texas is growing today, most of this growth has been in the last three decades. As more electricity was needed in Texas, and more air conditioners were plugged in, power plants were brought online. These power plants are relatively new compared to the power plants across the rest of the nation. Thus, electric generating plants in Texas often feature technologies like scrubbers that absorb SO2 before it is released into the atmosphere.

Another benefit of Texas’ generation fleet is our balanced mix of fuels. Power plants here use substantial amounts of coal, natural gas, nuclear power and wind, ensuring we don’t get too dependent on a single fuel source. So it provides a mix of reliability and low emissions.

AECT member companies take part in the stakeholder processes at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the EPA, acting and operating in accordance with environmental regulations. In total, Texas has a good story to tell on power plant emissions, regularly leading in emissions cuts while providing reliable electricity.

ABACCUS Report Cites Texas Electricity Market Design Most Successful in North America

In the Annual Baseline Assessment of Choice in Canada and the United States (ABACCUS) report  released by the Distributed Energy Financial Group LLC (DEFG), Texas was once again found to be the top competitive market in North America. From the release:

The report identifies North American electricity markets that have successfully restructured to allow direct access or consumer choice and explains the policy choices that led to those successes.

“In Texas we refuse to rest on our laurels and have every intention of remaining number one by continuing to add features in our nation’s leading electricity market,” said Donna L. Nelson, chairman of the Public Utility Commission of Texas. “We keep finding ways to increase customer value in the marketplace through smart grid innovations and ongoing improvements in the shopping experience, just to name a few.”

DEFG found in its research that the Texas retail electricity market is very competitive for all customer classes. Texans in competitive areas are engaging in the market in record numbers and making choices to meet their energy needs. The depth and breadth of retail electricity offers is unparalleled in Texas. Approximately 40 retail energy suppliers compete for residential customers in competitive areas of the state by offering a broad range of products and services designed to meet customers’ needs.

DEFG also noted the innovation in the ERCOT competitive market:

Texas continues to see a surge in consumer‐driven product and service innovation. New smart grid infrastructure investments – advanced meters, mobile communications and control devices, and in‐ home usage displays – allow entrepreneurial retail energy suppliers to develop innovative pricing and service choices.

Read the full release here.

Smart meters bring savings and reliability to consumers

Smart meters—also known as “advanced meters” or “digital meters” — are here for over 6 million Texas households, and they could revolutionize the way our electric system works.

The new meters replace 50-year-old meter technology. Think of all the ways technology has changed over the past 50 years: in the 1950s, computers were operated by punch-cards, and the state-of-the-art mobile phone—the Mobile System A—weighed 88 pounds.

Smart meters empower customers to take control over their own energy use

Right now, customers with smart meters can use Smart Meter Texas to track their energy use. The free online portal can track electric usage in monthly, daily and fifteen-minute intervals, allowing customers to view and adjust their energy use before getting their monthly bill. With the help of his Smart Meter Texas web portal, one Arlington homeowner was able to save 33 percent on his electric bill for the year.

CenterPoint Energy and Oncor also launched the Biggest Energy Saver contest last year to reward consumers who make the most of their smart meter data to reduce their energy usage and save on their electric bills. With the help of data from his smart meter and the Smart Meter Texas web portal, a Houston resident was able to cut his electricity use by 36 percent. A Pflugerville resident reduced his home’s energy usage by more than 39 percent.

Plus, smart meters give consumers more privacy, since they can be read remotely, and remote connection and disconnection of service lets consumers start or stop service or change Retail Electric Providers (REPs) faster at lower cost.

Smart meters help keep the lights on

Smart meters not only can help you save energy and money, they can also improve reliability. The new meters can automatically notify utilities when power is lost, so that power can be restored more quickly. Smart meters can even detect some problems before they lead to power outages.

Smart meters can also help reduce power demand when the electricity grid is strained by facilitating demand response. During peak times, when grid operators ask for help, utilities can coordinate with some of their customers—homeowners and small businesses—who voluntarily agree to reduce their energy usage. In exchange, an electricity provider may offer a customer a free thermostat or an equivalent incentive for reducing their energy use.

REPs already on board

Reliant Energy offers several plans and products that take advantage of new smart meter technology. For example, the Reliant e-Sense Keep Your Cash Nights & Weekends plan discounts electricity used on weeknights from 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. and all weekend long; other time-of-use plans allow customers to receive a lower price during off-peak hours.

TXU Energy plans include “Energy Free Nights,” which eliminates the energy charges from 10 PM to 6 AM, and free web-based information services that help customers better understand how and when they use electricity so they can reduce usage and save money on electricity bills

In short, energy technology is changing for the better, giving us more information to manage the energy we use, while enjoying greater convenience and reliability.

Click here to download “Electric 101: Smart Grid Technology”

ERCOT: Energy Saver app places conservation awareness at consumers’ fingertips

From the release:

While Texas is not suffering from the relentless heat that characterized 2011, the dog days of summer are definitely here. With the help of the ERCOT Energy Saver app, consumers in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) region now know in real-time when soaring temperatures and tight grid conditions make it more important to reduce their electricity use…

ERCOT launched the mobile app in mid-June, not long before the first heat wave of 2012 brought high temperatures and record June demand to the ERCOT region. The app provides real-time grid conditions, conservation tips and, most notably, notifications when conservation is most important for users who enable the notification feature.

To read the full release, click here.