Paying 13¢, 14¢, or even 15¢ for electricity, "is like paying $5 per gallon of gas," Texas electric industry officials said last week in response to a number of high bills in the Killeen area, which is in the Oncor service area.
Oncor has said that the main cause for the wide swing in monthly electric bills is the well-below average temperatures since December, compared to above average temperatures in December 2008. While customers have complained about the accuracy of new advanced meters installed by Oncor, Oncor has tested nearly 500 meters and found that they were all within an accuracy tolerance of 0.2%, or more accurate that what state rules require.
However, as Oncor has been discussing the high bills with customers, it has become apparent that many of the customers are paying rates of more than 13¢ per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for electricity, or even rates as high as 15¢. These customers have either never shopped for a new electric company, or haven't shopped in more than a year. Texas electric rates have fallen by about 50% in that timeframe, meaning customers are throwing money away by not switching to a cheaper electric company.
"Paying 13 to 14 cents per kilowatt hour is like paying $5 per gallon of gas. Switching from 13 to nine cents, that can take a third off your bill," Oncor's Catherine Cuellar said.
"What struck me the most is how many people have not gone online and shopped for their best provider," Oncor's John Toone added, who has been meeting with customers during town hall meetings. "People need to shop for the right provider," he added.
Customers who have had the same energy provider for years may see higher prices because they have not investigated lower rates, Toone said.
For example, the customers in the Oncor area can sign up for a plan with electric rates at only 8.3¢, or 45% lower than a rate of 15¢. Customers can find a secure, fixed-price plan for about 10¢. The average customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month would save $600 per year by switching to a rate that's only 10¢/kWh from 15¢/kWh. Switching to an even lower electric rate would save even more money.