Saturday, June 28

100% green electrons

For the third time in five months, I have a new electricity provider. I switched because my last provider's promotional rate of $138/mwh zoomed to $168 in June -- that's the highest I've ever paid, although still far from being Texas' most expensive ($206).

I now look back to 2005 with fondness, when I was paying $92/mwh!
In Texas, the market's deregulated, which means you're not stuck with the default provider (TXU @ $159). All your choice really means is (a) who you pay and (b) who feeds The Grid on your behalf. None of the infrastructure (cables, meters, repair crew) changes.
My last provider's business model is: "attract new customers with a low initial price, and hope they're too oblivious/lazy to change when we raise the rate after 30 days". It's not like I wasn't warned; the contract terms said:
"The promotional month-to-month electricity rate is for new customers enrolling for the first time beginning May 1, 2008. This rate will transition to a variable rate at the end of the Promo month period. Current variable rates for service are published on our website."
The good news is that their contract was month-to-month so no early termination penalty applied.

Electricity rates in Texas are among the highest in the country - typically 10th. The highest are (in order) Hawaii; New York; Connecticut; Massachusetts; Rhode Island; Alaska; New Hampshire; California and Vermont. Is deregulation working here? Since The Texas Republic Party has been in power (and lining their pockets with oil money) for the past 20+ years, it's obviously their fault. But, they are the party of Never EVER Taking Responsibility, so .. the high prices will continue until they're thrown out - probably in 2072 or so, given the stupidity of the electorate.

Given the wild fluctuations in the energy market, I decided to seek a fixed rate for a year. There are 27 providers (!) and 80 different plans (!) available for my ZIP code .. lots of companies want my money, apparently. Of those 80 plans, fifty (50) are fixed rate contracts.

The choices

The cost/megawatt hour ranged from $138 to $220, and I could choose between fixed and variable rates; 0-100% renewable; 1-60 month contracts; and a $0-399 (!) early-cancellation penalty. The ideal contract doesn't exist, of course:
  • lowest rate/kwh
  • 100% renewable
  • 60 month lock-in
  • $0 early cancellation penalty
In the past, renewable providers charged significantly more than traditional providers (coal and lignite; natural gas; nuclear) but the fixed rate plan difference is now $146 vs $153, so I'll pay the few extra quid to be 100% Green.

Twelve (12) providers matched my criteria (fixed rate, 100% renewable, 12+ months) with rates ranging from $153 to $206/mwh. So, my new provider is Gexa (JEKS-uh) Energy. The Gexa Green 12 plan is 100% wind energy.

There was a matching company: YEP Energy (same criteria and price) but Gexa will give me AAdvantage Miles (!) so that clinched the deal.

Also, Y.E.P. sounded like a funny name .. which wasn't in my criteria. Their tagline is "The Official Sponsor of Absolutely Nothing" (keep rates low by not sponsoring sports stadiums, etc.)

Now, I've locked in a fixed rate of $153/mwh for a one year term -- with a $150 early-cancellation penalty. My usage troughs in April (<1 mwh) and peaks in September (>3 mwh), so .. keep those wind turbines turning.

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