Even as summer approaches, retail Texas electric rates remain at historic lows, making now the best time to shop for a new energy provider.

Texas electric rates always go up in the summer as air conditioner demand pushes up prices. But this summer, as previously noted by SaveOnEnergy.com, power prices in Texas are expected to be especially high and volatile because of (1): a shortage of excess generating capacity and (2) an expected 50% increase in the wholesale electric price cap to $4,500 per megawatt-hour.

While these factors are already raising the "forward" wholesale prices in Texas -- meaning power bought today for future delivery -- current retail electric rates remain at historic lows, so customers should take advantage of the market-leading rates while they still can.

For example, fixed electric rates for residential customers in Dallas and Ft. Worth, in the Oncor area, are still only 8 cents per kWh, while variable rates are currently about 7 cents per kWh.

In Houston, at the CenterPoint territory, fixed electric rates are still only 9 cents per kWh, while variable rates are currently about 7 cents per kWh.

If you haven't shopped for a lower electric rate in the past year, you are probably paying too much.

In the past, waiting until May to shop for a low electric rate was risky, because there was no guarantee that your switch would happen before the hot weather hits. Switching a retail electric provider used to take up to 30-45 days due to the meter read schedule, which meant a switch requested in May might not be completed until June or even July, with the customer staying on their old, high rate in the interim.

However, a few years ago Texas implemented a maximum seven business day switching period, so customers can get immediate savings from their new electric company. That means if you've procrastinated shopping for a low electric rate before the summer hits, you can still find a low rate and get on that low rate before you ramp up the air conditioner.