By NICHOLAS SAKELARIS | CoServ
We know CoServ Members are taking a closer look at their electric bills as they’ve noticed their costs going up in recent months.
This may cause some Members to wonder if they would be better off in Texas’ deregulated electricity market where consumers choose their electric provider.
The simple answer is, no.
Rising natural gas prices are driving up the cost of wholesale electricity, which impacts all electric utilities in Texas, including the for-profit retail electric providers or REPs.
This month, we want to dig into what makes electric cooperatives better, what “choice” really means and the benefits of having CoServ as your electric provider.
THE ORIGINS OF CO-OPS
This year, CoServ is celebrating its 85th anniversary, so our roots run deep in the communities we serve. Originally known as Denton County Electric Cooperative (DCEC), the founders of this co-op sought to bring power to farms and ranches, and the potential customers that the for-profit utilities ignored because it wasn’t profitable.
Another big difference for the co-op business model - no shareholders. Our Members are our owners and they govern our operations through the election of the Board of Directors.
That’s why the cooperative model worked so well not only for DCEC but in rural communities throughout the United States where lights, appliances and other modern-day conveniences could finally be powered by reliable electricity.
Fast-forward to today and that same concept is alive and well.
THE PROBLEM WITH “CHOICE”
CoServ is one of the only co-ops in the country that shares a market with deregulated utilities and, because of that, we know our Members see plenty of advertisements for REPs.
For the majority of North Texans in the deregulated market, the poles, wires and other infrastructure are owned by one for-profit company. A per-kilowatt electric delivery charge is added to all customers’ bills along with a per-month customer charge.
Customers in the deregulated market can’t choose another electric delivery company.
What they do pick is the electric rate that they will pay the REPs. These for-profit REPs are essentially brokers who typically sell electricity at a locked-in rate for the duration of the contract, which ranges from a few months to multiple years.
The Texas Public Utility Commission encourages electricity shoppers to visit PowerToChoose.org to compare REPs and find the deal that’s best for them.
Most of the cheaper electric rates are three- or four-month plans so people have to shop several times a year. Longer-term plans increase in price. And if a customer doesn’t switch plans when the term expires, they are moved to a more expensive month-to-month plan. There are also marketing ploys, especially the companies that advertise on television.
One of the most popular plans offers free electricity for nights or weekends. What those advertisements don’t mention the price consumers will pay when the electricity isn’t free. It’s important to read the Electricity Facts Label (EFL) on each REP plan to get the full picture. Prices on free nights or weekends plans can range from 17 cents to almost 24 cents per kilowatt-hour.
The CoServ Advantage
A. Visit CoServ.com/Rates and you’ll see our various rate options: the Standard Rate, Solar Savings and Summer Savings. Any of these plans can be combined with Budget Billing, which takes an average of your usage so you have the same bill every month and it’s adjusted every six months to help even out the swings of peak winter and summer bills.
B. Everything is laid out in clear, easy-to-understand language. And if you have any questions, you can email, call or chat with one of our local Customer Care Specialists and they will work on your behalf to find the rate that works best for you with no tricks or gimmicks.
They have software that can analyze your account and see if you would save money on one of our other rate plans or Budget Billing.
C. Our rates don’t end after a set period so our Members never have to shop around to find the best price or worry about when their contract ends. In addition to the clear, easy-to-understand plans, CoServ Members rarely experience power outages because our reliability is among the best in the state.
D. That’s not to mention CoServ’s involvement in 22 area school districts, the CoServ Charitable Foundation’s grants to nonprofits and our deep involvement and support of community events.
“From the beginning in the 1930s, electric co-ops have done things differently than the for-profit utilities and that legacy continues through today’s volatile energy market. We believe the cooperative business model is still the most reliable and affordable method to deliver electricity and, when you consider the Academic Initiatives, the CoServ Charitable Foundation and Employee volunteer efforts, we also strive to improve the communities we serve.”
— DONNIE CLARY
CoServ President & CEO