Nearly 50,000 Texas electric customers can now shop for their electricity provider as competition is introduced into the former Cap Rock Energy service areas now owned by Sharyland Utilities.

Sharyland's Stanton, Colorado City, Brady, and Celeste divisions will officially transition to competition on May 1, 2014 -- providing some 44,000 customers with the same ability to shop for a lower energy rate that most Texans have enjoyed since 2002.

Sharyland's Stanton, Colorado City, Brady, and Celeste divisions are now going through the "unbundling" process that Oncor (formerly TXU Electric Delivery), CenterPoint Energy, and AEP Texas went through more than a decade ago.

Starting May 1, Sharyland will no longer sell electricity supply to customers.  It will only act as a "wires" company -- delivering power supply into your home or business over its existing poles and wires.

Your power supply, however, will now come from one of over a dozen "retail electric providers" (REPs) who compete to win your business.  The best part is that you get to choose the electricity provider that is best for you -- choose from among providers offering low rates, stable rates, or green power products -- you now get to decide.

No matter who you choose as your retail electric provider, Sharyland will still deliver your power as it always has.  You will still call Sharyland for all outages and emergencies, and Sharyland will provide you with the same level of delivery service regardless of which REP you choose.

As Sharyland itself notes, "In the competitive market, you will now be able to choose a REP whose products and services best fit your needs. For the past 12 years, other customers have experienced the benefits of competition through access to lower prices and more offerings."

"But with these new benefits comes a new responsibility to shop around and learn more about each REP so that you can make an informed decision, just as you would when buying a new appliance for your home, a new car for your family, or a new data plan for your smart phone," Sharyland says.

As noted above, Sharyland will stop supplying customers with electricity on May 1, 2014, and from that date forward will only deliver power supplies on behalf of your chosen electricity provider.

But what happens if you don't choose a retail electric provider?

Sharyland will transition you to a "default" retail electric provider, which will automatically serve you starting May 1.  These default REPs were selected through a process approved by the Public Utility Commission. It is important to remember that you will be able to switch away from this "default" retail electric provider at any time without penalty.

Sharyland Utilities customers can choose their own retail electric provider prior to being assigned a "default" provider. The last day that customers can choose a REP prior to being assigned to a default REP is April 13.

While the default REP will serve any customers who do not actively choose, customers will be better off by shopping around for the electricity plan that best meets their individual needs and preferences.