Frequently Asked Questions

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  • FAQ
Frequently asked questions about the Electric Industry and Deregulation
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  • 1. What is an Electric Broker
     

    An Electric Broker is a company who gathers electricity customers and places them with an Electricity Provider.

  • 2. Why Should you Use an Electric Broker
     

    There are many reasons why a Broker is the best option for your electricity needs:

    •   We have already read through the electricity contracts including all of the fine print to save you time and money. We will find you a safe contract with a good electricity rate (usually fixed) no gimmicks here!

    •   We work for you; we offer customer protection to ensure you are always treated fairly and just. All of our contracts with the electricity providers are designed with the customers’ protection in mind.

    •   We offer EXCELLENT customer service, no more calling directly to the electric provider if you need some help and waiting on hold for exhausting amounts of time. You’re busy aren’t you? Call us directly and save some time in your day.

    •   We have negotiation power with the electric providers we work with; even if you are on a contract with a fixed rate, we often have the ability to negotiate to lower your electric rate mid contract.

    •   If you need to transfer your lights to a new address with Current Utilities then this process only takes 10 minutes or less over the phone. We handle all the paperwork that you may otherwise have to email/fax into the Retail Electric Provider.

    In some cases, when you transfer without the assistance of a Broker, you may have to pay a deposit or additional deposit, whereas with Current Utilities, we can get this waived*.
    *in most cases

  • 3. Who is Current Utilities
     

    Current Utilities was created to give residential and small business customers a voice in the market place.

    We look into contracts offered by REPs, investigate the small print and make sure the contract is fair and honest. We work with you to get the best rates with the most reliable suppliers and work on your behalf if there is ever an issue with your REP.

    We charge you nothing, and instead get paid a small part of the profit made by the REP.

  • 4. How do I Sign up with Current Utilities?
     

    It’s Easy. You can either call our toll free number M-F 9 am – 6 pm and Sat 10 am – 2 pm OR Click Here to request a free quote.

  • 5. What do I do if I am moving?
     

    That’s Easy! If you are a customer of Current Utilities, please give us a call at 1-866-551-2936 M-F 9 am – 6 pm and Sat 10 am – 2 pm and we can get your service transferred to your new address.

    If you are moving out of a serviceable area, we will also help you cancel your account and get all of the paper work done on your behalf!

    In some cases, when you transfer without the assistance of a Broker, you may have to pay a deposit or additional deposit, whereas with Current Utilities, we can get this waived for transferring.*
    *in most cases

  • 6. What do I do if my power goes out?
     

    For Power Outages (not due to disconnection for non-payment), call the Transmission and Distribution company for your area. Their information is:

    Dallas – Fort Worth and outlining areas:
    Oncor Electric
    http://www.oncor.com/
    Service Requests / General Inquiries
    1-888-313-6862
    [email protected]
    (Mon. – Fri., 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Central Time)

    – Houston and outlining areas:
    Centerpoint Energy
    http://www.centerpointenergy.com
    Service Requests / General Inquiries
    1-713-207-2222

    Corpus Christi and outlining areas:
    AEP (American Electric Power)

    1-877-373-4858

    https://www.aeptexas.com/

    West Texas
    TNMP (Texas New Mexico Power

    888-866-7456

    Mondays-Fridays

    8 a.m.-7 p.m. Central time

    http://www.tnmp.com/

  • 7. What if my Power goes out for Non-payment?
     

    If you have a disconnection for non-payment &  you are a Current Utilities customer  please call us at 1-866-551-2936 M-F 9 am – 6 pm and Sat 10 am – 2 pm. You may also call directly to your Retail Electric Provider.

  • 8. What is Electric Deregulation
     

    “Deregulation – Removal or relaxation of regulations or controls governing a business or service operation like utilities.”

    Prior to 2002 Texas was a regulated State; meaning that the State of Texas, just like any other State, was simple for consumers. Depending on what area they lived in, they had one single electric company to serve them. Consumers had one point of contact for their area and one fixed price fixed by the government. If the utility companies wanted to raise the price, they had to get the government to agree to the new price. As Texans are a very loyal people, they were content with their utility company and that was that.

    Before deregulation occurred, Texas was divided up by region and each region was served by one company. For example, in the greater Dallas – Fort Worth area the electrical provider was TXU. TXU owned the generation plants, the power lines and the selling and billing to the customer for their usage. In South Texas (the Corpus Christi area) the only provider was CPL, in the Houston area the provider was Reliant and so on. Customers can be classified as either a commercial, residential or municipal customer and they are all essentially the same. They use the power and then are billed by the electric company for their usage, tax and the cost of transmitting the power to them (they were mostly charged a customer fee for billing as well). Each region had very similar pricing and it just chugged along.

    In 2002, Texas’ former governor, former President George Bush, set into motion a plan that would forever change the way that the Texas electrical market is run. He began the deregulation of the Texas electrical market. This meant that each region had to deregulate, like Dallas – Fort Worth area, unless  municipally owned and operated, like San Antonio. For the deregulated areas, the controlling company like TXU, Reliant and CPL had to sell off or separate two of their three part empires.

    The three components in each area are the power production facilities, the distribution lines and service (called TDSP [Transmission and Distribution Service Provider]) and the billing to the customers which now involved buying the power from the power generating facilities and reselling it back to the customer. After these three part organizations were divided and sold, the retail (buying and selling of power to the consumers) end was frozen against competing until 60% of their customer base had moved away. At which time they were then able to compete in the Retail Electric marketplace. This led to a vacuum in the electrical market.

  • 9. What is a Retail Electric Provider (or REP)?
     

    A company that sells electricity to customers. All Retail Electric Providers must be certified to do business by the Public Utility Commission of Texas. A REP is not mandated to a set energy price. The original purpose of the REP was to utilize competition to lower rates in Texas. The REP sends customers their bills. They do not service the electric lines or produce the power.

  • 10. What is the Utility Company (or TDSP)?
     

    A Utility Company is the owners, operators and maintainers of the power lines and meters. Each region has its own privately owned and operated Utility Companies. Another term for this company is TDSP which stands for Transmission and Distribution Service Provider. This entity is not to be confused with a Retail Electric Provider or REP.

    When an order is placed with the Retail Electric Provider, the REP must go through them to request that the account physically gets turned on by the Utility Company or TDSP at the customer’s location.

    Here is a list of all the Utility Companies (TDSP) and their contact information:

    – Dallas – Fort Worth and outlining areas:
    Oncor Electric
    http://www.oncor.com/
    Service Requests / General Inquiries
    1-888-313-6862
    [email protected]
    (Mon. – Fri., 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Central Time)

     

    Houston and outlining areas:
    Centerpoint Energy
    http://www.centerpointenergy.com
    Service Requests / General Inquiries
    1-713-207-2222

    Corpus Christi and outlining areas:
    AEP (American Electric Power)

    1-877-373-4858

    https://www.aeptexas.com/

    West Texas
    TNMP (Texas New Mexico Power

    888-866-7456

    Mondays-Fridays

    8 a.m.-7 p.m. Central time

    http://www.tnmp.com/

  • 11. Who is the Public Utility Commission of Texas (or PUCT)?
     

    The Public Utility Commission of Texas (or PUCT) is a state Public Utilities Commission which regulates privately-owned utilities in the state of Texas. They make all the laws over Aggregators and Retail Electric Providers. They issue licenses to these organizations and have the legal ability to fine them (both Retail Electric Providers and Aggregators) for illegal business practices. It is headquartered in the William B. Travis State Office Building at 1701 North Congress in Austin. Their Website is: http://www.puc.texas.gov/

  • 12. What is a Switch Hold
     

    A Switch Hold is a status that is placed onto a meter by the Transmission and Distribution Service Provider, it would prevent any new Retail Electric Provider from activating the meter.

    This occurs under two circumstances:

    –    When the previous or current tenant has an outstanding balance with their previous provider. This prevents the address from being switched to a new provider until the outstanding balance has been satisfied.

    –    When the meter appears to have been physically tampered with or altered.

  • 13. How to remove a Switch Hold
     

    If the current resident has a Switch Hold and is looking to get it removed, they must contact their provider to get all the necessary steps completed. This may include paying the past due balance.

    If a new resident moves into a location that has a Switch Hold, they must provide proof that they are not the previous resident. This step normally takes 2-7 days unless you are a customer of Current Utilities, in which case we can assist you in expediting this process.

    If you are a Current Utilities customer, please call us at 1-866-551-2936 and we will take care of this issue and guide you through all the needed steps.

  • 14. What does it mean to have a “Permit required on my meter?"
     

    This occurs when the electric meter is newly installed or has been altered. No one can start electric services at this location until the property owner requests an inspection from the city. This process can take a few days or more to complete. The inspection requirement is not always known until electricity service is requested.

  • 15. How do I get a Meter Permit passed?
     

    The property owner must contact the city and request an inspection which gets scheduled by the city. After the inspection gets passed, the city will inform the Transmission and Distribution Provider that the meter has passed inspection. From here, the TDSP will inform the Retail Electric Provider, then a new electricity order can be submitted. This process can take some time depending on the city.

  • 16. When can I legally break an Electric Contract?
     

    The Public Utility Commission of Texas states that an electrical contract can be broken without any Early Termination Fee when the customer is moving from one address to another. This fact is not commonly known and it has occurred often enough that a Retail Electric Provider has charged Early Termination Fees to customers because the Retail Electric Provider was not informed that the customer was moving.

    The PUCT Law is:

    “A contract is limited to service to a customer at a location specified in the contract.

    If the customer moves from the location, the customer is under no obligation to

    continue the contract at another location.  The REP may require a customer to

    provide evidence that it is moving.  There shall be no early termination fee assessed

    to the customer as a result of the customer’s relocation if the customer provides a

    forwarding address and, if required, reasonable evidence that the customer no longer

    occupies the location specified in the contract.”

    – CHAPTER 25. SUBSTANTIVE RULES APPLICABLE TO ELECTRIC  SERVICE PROVIDERS.

    Subchapter R. CUSTOMER PROTECTION
    (c) General Retail Electric Provider requirements.
    (2) General contracting requirements.
    (C)
    http://www.puc.texas.gov/agency/rulesnlaws/subrules/electric/25.475/25.475.pdf

  • 17. How do I find my current rate?
     

    Please see Understanding Your Bill.

  • 18. What Kind of Plans are available and what do I have?
     

    Fixed Rate – A price per KWh that is contracted in for the term of the contract entered. Some REP’s have a clause in their contract that legally allows the price per KWh to be raised if that clause is executed.

    Variable Rate (Month to Month)–  A price per KWh that is not guaranteed by a contract, as in a month to month rate. This rate is subject to the energy market or up to the REP. It can go up as high as the REP wishes or go down. This is a very risky energy situation for the consumer.

    Prepaid (Month to Month) – Prepaid is a relatively new type of plan. It is a variation of Month to Month as the rate is not fixed. Customers pay for their electricity in advance and they reload their account as they need. This is a good choice for some customers but may not be for everyone.

  • 19. What is an “All Inclusive Plan”?
     

    There are two different ways lay out the costs on a bill. The first is “All Inclusive”. This means that the price per kWh on the bill includes all Transmission and Distribution fees and the cost of Electrical Generation. This type of plan allows for easier cost predictions as the price per kWh does not change.

    *This fixed price disclosure does not include applicable federal, state and local taxes or any fees (including gross receipt tax reimbursement), other amounts charged by a governmental entity, and all other non-recurring fees. It does not include Advanced Meter Fee.

  • 20. What is the Advance Meter Fee?
     

    A PUC-authorized charge for electric delivery companies to recover the costs for their Advanced Metering Systems. This charge will be shared among all electricity users who receive an Advanced Meter. This means that regardless of what provider you choose to go with, you will receive this charge. Your monthly charge will be added to your electricity bill for the next several years. For more information, contact your Retail Electric Provider. –PUCT from Website http://www.puc.texas.gov/consumer/electricity/bill_e.aspx

     

  • 21. How do I tell if my meter is on or off?
     

    The meter face on your smart meter shows three separate rotating displays. .
    Each display flashes for five seconds. The displays include:

    • Status of your electricity service – Is the power on or off?
    • Cumulative electric usage – used by your Retail Electric Provider in bill calculations
    • Electric demand reading – a view for Utility companies operational use only.

    Power Status Display

    Source: AEP

  • 22. What is a Smart Meter?
     

    A smart meter is usually an electrical meter that records consumption of electric energy in intervals of an hour or less and communicates that information at least daily back to the utility for monitoring and billing purposes.Smart meters enable two-way communication between the meter and the central system. Unlike home energy monitors, smart meters can gather data for remote reporting. Such an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) differs from traditional automatic meter reading (AMR) in that it enables two-way communications with the meter.

    smartmeter

    Source: Wikipedia

    Source of photo: Whatisworking.com

  • 23. What makes a meter smart?
     

    Smart Meters are equipped with wireless communications technology. This allows utility companies in Texas to communicate with Smart Meters remotely so that certain service requests can be completed faster, such as meter reading, service connections and outage notifications.

    Source: AEP

  • 24. What is an Analog meter?
     

    An electricity meter or Analog meter is a device that measures the amount of electric energy consumed by a residence, business, or an electrically powered device.
    Electricity meters are typically calibrated in billing units, the most common one being the kilowatt hour [kWh]. Periodic readings of electric meters establishes billing cycles and energy used during a cycle. Unlike Smart meters, Analog meters do not have the ability of wireless communications. In order to be powered on or off a technician must visit the site.

    Analog meter

    Source: Wikipedia

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