Summer Heats Up; Electric Rates Simmer Down

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Temperatures at 100 and above mean more and more North Texans are running their AC full-time, and many people are keeping an eye on electric rates. (Published Wednesday, Jul 6, 2011)

    Triple-digit summer heat usually brings higher electric bills, but some people are finding lower rates -- at least for now.

    Many North Texas providers' price of electricity has dropped well below 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, according to PowerToChoose.org, the state's comparison website.

    Avoiding Electric Bill Sticker Shock

    [DFW] Avoiding Electric Bill Sticker Shock
    Temperatures at 100 and above mean more and more North Texans are running their AC full-time, and many people are keeping an eye on electric rates. (Published Wednesday, Jul 6, 2011)

    A fixed-rate plan locks in a set rate, but rates go up and down with the market in variable-rate plans.

    This year, some rates have doubled, from 6 to 12 cents from one month to the next.

    John Swiderski, an electric customer in McKinney, shops around often to make sure he gets the best rate from his variable plan.

    "If there's a big gap there and there wasn't a commitment or anything else like that, then I would decide to change," he said.

    Better Business Bureau spokeswoman Jeannette Kopko said customers should read the fine print. She said customers should not get lured in by low introductory rates and enter into long-term contracts with volatile variable rates.

    "You have to look at your usage, what you've paid historically, what kind of risk you want to take and the terms and conditions of the particular plan," she said.

    Natural gas, which fuels electricity, has experienced a decrease in rates, which has resulted in the drop in electricity rates, according to the Texas Public Utility Commission.

    Electric prices in Texas remain below the average in most other states. In competitive markets such as North Texas, consumers usually can find even lower rates.