Two more Texas energy providers have bit the dust as record price volatility wreaks havoc on the market. Customers of eTricity have been switched to high-priced Providers of Last Resort (POLR), a safety net service designed for when an energy supplier goes out of business, while Riverway Power declared bankruptcy to avoid that process. With two prior failures at the end of May, four electric companies have recently failed, forcing about 35,000 customers onto the high-priced POLR service, where the average monthly bill could triple for some customers up to $300. Market experts predict more defaults among marginal energy suppliers if the wholesale market doesn’t calm down.

Customers on POLRs are being urged to switch quickly to find a lower electricity rate , but how do they avoid picking another clunker? Some websites, which claim to help customers pick the best electric company , prominently featured some of the now out-of-business providers like Riverway and National Power.

That’s what makes different. It only lists offers from qualified energy suppliers to ensure customers aren’t left in the dark. Electric companies are screened by’s industry experts, and only stable, financially healthy providers with seasoned, competent management are recommended. Energy suppliers must also have outstanding customer service, substantially lower rates, and innovative products and features. knows that teaser offers promising low prices may not be all they’re cracked up to be if the energy supplier can’t make good on the offer, and leaves the customer stranded and paying 30¢/kWh power, when most rates are less than half that.

That’s a sentiment echoed by one of’s qualified suppliers, MXenergy, which called for tighter rules in the market.

"People are surprised to learn that the lowest price is not always the most reliable," MXenergy CEO Jeffrey Mayer said. "Customers know they shouldn't buy their life insurance from the lowest cost carrier, and now they are learning to be cautious about whom they choose to supply them with power."

The energy suppliers on are all battle-tested providers that know how to survive the ups and downs of the market. They aren’t new start-ups promising low electricity rates without having seen the volatility the market can bring.

Electric companies making the cut include some of Texans’ traditional providers from before competition (TXU Energy and Direct Energy, which bought the old CPL and WTU utilities), competitors that have been around since the market opened six years ago (like Cirro Energy, Commerce Energy, Green Mountain Energy and Gexa Energy), and newer competitors who have entered Texas after successful operations in other states (like MXenergy and Hudson Energy).

While regulators have been urging POLR customers to switch to cheaper plans, customers who have doubts about the strength of their energy supplier should consider switching as well, to avoid the same fate as the 35,000 customers recently dropped to POLRs. While you might pay a few cents more upfront to switch to one of the energy providers vetted by , switching now could save you from paying 30¢ for a month’s worth of power, and also gives you a chance to lock-in an electricity rate now before the summer price spikes really kick in.

For customers that have been dropped to a POLR, they can speed their transition to a new, cheaper energy provider by requesting an off-cycle meter read, and waiving a mailed notification about the supplier switch. Many electric companies will now offer to waive the typical off-cycle meter reading fee for POLR customers as a goodwill gesture and to win the customer’s business.

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