Customer benefits in Texas' competitive electric market continue to grow, the state's Public Utility Commission said last week, drawing attention to lower prices available and additional discounts for qualified low-income customers.

“I urge Texans to take advantage of every opportunity to reduce their electricity bill this summer,” said Barry Smitherman, Chairman of the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC). “Customers need to be aware of these programs at a time when we’re using more electricity than ever.”

A reduction in energy prices over the past year is reflected in current price offers by retail electric providers, the PUC noted.  Most of the competitive areas, including the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, have several offers below 10 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh).  That’s less than $100 a month for customers using 1,000 kWh, a benchmark for monthly residential usage.

The prices mean that the current Lite-Up Texas discount for low-income customers goes even farther -- but only if customers switch to a lower-priced plan.  Under the Lite-Up Texas program, customers receive a cents-per-kilowatt-hour credit off every kilowatt-hour they consume.  For August, the discount is about 3¢/kWh, meaning if a customer switches to a rate plan that's 10¢/kWh, the customer will effectively pay only 7¢/kWh for all of their electricity, a discount of 30%.

However, the Lite-Up Texas program is one of several consumer protection and assistance measures only available in areas of Texas open to competition.  Customers who buy electricity from municipal or cooperative utilities, which aren't regulated by the PUC, are not eligible for the Lite-Up program.

Making your energy dollar go father is easy thanks to deregulation.  Finding a low rate for under 10¢/kWh is as simple as doing your research and conducting an effective comparison.