Shopping around for an electricity provider isn’t as simple as comparing rates at the PowertoChoose.org. It’s easy if you mindlessly accept the lowest cost per kilo watt hour without reviewing the hidden fees or penalties.There are hundreds of plans available with enough options to make you think electricity deregulation has been a complete failure. (it is)
After a few hours of research, which included creating a spreadsheet to compare plans based upon last years usage, I found the following about the plans available:
- Hidden fees. Many, if not all, providers will charge you a fee of $9 – $20.00 if you conserve energy and use less than 1000 kWh in a month. Last year I had only 4 months over 1000.
- Not so hidden fees. Some providers simply charge a monthly fee ranging from $9 to $15.
- No PowertoCompare. The PowertoChoose website lacks the PowertoCompare. There is no capability to truly compare rates. My poorly crafted spreadsheet accepted the cost per kWh, the monthly fee, and the penalty and calculated a cost per month based upon last years usage and the average cost per kWh. (I’ll blog the results later)
- Other plans. The Power to Choose does not have all the plans available. I was able to select a plan when I found the company had other lower cost plans available.
- Auto deductions. Some providers will also charge you a fee, about $12, if you are not enrolled in an auto deduction program.
- Reversed hidden fees. I found a couple of providers out of the hundreds available, that actually charges less per kWh if you are below 1000 kWh. This blew my spreadsheet, so I need to research this a little more.
So, if you think it is easy to shop around, well it is, if you are willing to accept higher rates with hidden fees. KHOU has more on the hidden fees: