Searching for the right energy plan can feel overwhelming and confusing. However, there are rules in place to protect the rights of both consumers and energy providers. And with these rights come certain responsibilities for you and your retail energy provider (REP) to fulfill.
It is crucial that you understand your energy responsibilities and rights as a consumer before committing to an electricity plan. So, what are they? And how can you make sure your rights are protected? Read on to learn more.
When you sign an energy contract, you are entering into an agreement with your REP. This means you agree to fulfill responsibilities in order to receive electric service. These responsibilities include the following:
Entering into an agreement with your REP means the energy provider also must fulfill certain responsibilities. These include the following:
Along with these responsibilities, you have rights as a consumer of energy. If you believe your rights have been violated, you will need to file a complaint with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) of Texas.
Your rights as a consumer include:
If you have a dispute with your REP, you should contact your REP and have them investigate the manner. If the dispute continues, you can request a supervisory review. Similar to your rights and responsibilities, your REP also has certain rights. These include:
You may encounter these two terms and should know what they mean.
Slamming is an unauthorized switch of your electricity service. It is illegal in Texas. Your REP must have your consent before switching you to a new plan or service. If you believe there are signs of slamming, contact the PUC immediately. You should also contact your REP and request your service be switched back to your previous provider or plan.
Cramming is an unauthorized charge on your electric bill. It is illegal in Texas. Your REP must notify you of any new charges before the charges appear on your bill. If you believe there is evidence of cramming on your bill, contact your REP immediately.
Step 1. Contact your REP and try to resolve the issue directly.
Step 2. If you are unable to resolve the issue with your REP, you can file a complaint with the PUC. Once you have filed your complaint, the PUC will contact your REP. After this, the REP has 21 days to investigate the complaint and respond to the PUC. The PUC will appoint an investigator, who will determine whether the REP has violated your rights or failed to follow the law. The PUC will then send you and your REP notice of the investigator’s conclusion.
Step 3. If you are unsatisfied with the PUC investigator’s conclusion, you can file a formal complaint to the PUC. These formal complaints work similarly to a court case, so you might be required to attend a hearing. If this is the case, you might want to consider bringing an attorney with you.
Caitlin Cosper is a writer within the energy and power industry. Born in Georgia, she attended the University of Georgia before earning her master’s in English at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.