Starting May 1, Sharyland Utilities customers in the service areas of Brady, Celeste, Colorado City and Stanton will no longer receive their electricity supply from the utility. These areas are being deregulated and residents will need to choose a new retail electric provider.

While May 1 is the date Sharyland will no longer be the supplier of electricity for these communities, residents in these areas must choose a new retail provider by April 13 or be assigned to a default retail electric provider (REP) that will sell them a variable-rate, month-to-month plan. This type of plan isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it can lead to rate spikes for the supply rate.

You probably haven't forgotten the severe storms Texas experienced the past few months. Harsh weather for several days in a row can lead to increased demand for electricity, which can often be expensive to purchase. Customers on a variable-rate plan see their supply rate rise with the market rate of electricity during these times – and usually pay unexpectedly high bills. Those on a fixed-rate plan, though, pay the same amount for their supply. This is one example of how having the power to choose your own electricity plan can save you money.

Residents in Brady, Celeste, Colorado City and Stanton can sign up with a new provider any time before April 13, as well as after. Even those assigned to a default REP after April 13 can still switch to a new plan or new provider at any time. Finding a new REP is made simpler on sites such as SaveOnEnergy.com®, with several providers and their plans listed in one place so consumers can easily compare rates and make the best choice for their household. Business customers in these areas will also need to choose a new retail electric provider and can find help at SaveOnEnergy.com.

Sharyland Utilities has information on its website, including an FAQ, to help its customers understand what will happen during the transition. Though many parts of Texas have been deregulated for more than a decade, there are some exceptions. Communities served by co-ops or municipal utilities are not required to deregulate. In addition, some areas don't have enough competition to make deregulation worthwhile. In the case of these Sharyland service areas, the decision to deregulate came when Sharyland acquired Cap Rock Energy in 2010. The Public Utility Commission of Texas approved the transition to retail competition in August 2012.

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