Fw: November Letter to the Editor Opportunity
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I'm forwarding an email from Solar United Neighbors, for anyone who might want to write a letter to the editor in support of solar energy.
I also wanted to discuss the general topic in the email of increasing Texas electricity rates. Considering the ever decreasing costs for solar and wind, shouldn't electricity from renewable generators / providers be decreasing? I understand those companies can make higher profits if they raise their rates like the fossil fuel companies. But it seems they are missing a golden opportunity to grab more market share and demonstrate to existing and prospective customers that renewably generated electricity really is the only way to be protected against rate increases.
Short term profits over long term strategy isn't smart.
----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Lisa Trope <ltrope@...>
To: "sun-tx-lte@..." <sun-tx-lte@...>
Sent: Tuesday, November 16, 2021, 04:54:47 PM CST
Subject: November Letter to the Editor Opportunity
We hope you are having a nice fall! We wanted to share this month's opportunity to write a Letter to the Editor in support of solar energy. Please let us know if you draft and submit a letter! Below is an opinion piece published in The Dallas Morning News, “I looked at the latest electricity prices in Texas and got a shock. "You can also find the text pasted below my signature.
Below are a few “talking points” you could consider including in your letter to the editor. Please be sure to write the letter in your own words.
Here is the link to where you can submit your letter to The Dallas Morning News.
The letter must be under 200 words to be considered for publication.
If you’re able to send in a letter in the next two days, great! Let us know. If not, no worries. There will be another opportunity to write soon.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns or if you want us to review your letter before submitting. Thanks for making helping promote a clean, just, and equitable energy future in Texas with rooftop solar as the cornerstone!
Solar United Neighbors
Have you looked at retail electricity prices lately?
On the suggestion of readers, I pulled up the state-sponsored marketing site — PowerToChoose.org (beware of imitators) — and it was like I stuck my finger in a wall socket. I was shocked.
For as long as The Watchdog can remember, the opening pages usually highlighted kilowatt hour rates of around 6 to 9 cents.
Now the opening pages show double-digit pricing of 10 cents or more.
Prices of the two dominant players in the market — TXU Energy and Reliant Energy — offer an added jolt.
TXU shows one-year plans for 1,000 kWh around 12 cents. Another listed plan offers a 15.9 cents rate.
On the TXU website, I saw different plans that varied from those presented on the state website. A reminder that with all companies, always remember to check both PowerToChoose and that company’s website.
Reliant shows plans on the state site from 13.4 cents to 15.2 cents for various kWh usage.
This chart by TexasElectricityRatings.com shows the cost of electricity in Texas from 2016 to Oct. 2021. It shows the average rate for 12-month electricity plans, which is what many customers choose.(TexasElectricityRatings.com)
Oncor rate spikes
Another charge, the so-called Oncor charge for transmission to retail companies, jumped 19% in September. That means the mandatory fee for each kWh used grew from about 3.5 cents to 4.15 cents. That’s the first time I can remember the Oncor charge crashing the 4 cents a kWh barrier.
To compute your bill, if you use 1,000 kWh a month, multiply 1,000 times 4.15 cents. Then multiply 1,000 kWh by the retail rate you contracted to pay. Add the two together for total kWh fee. And don’t forget to add Oncor’s $3.42 monthly base charge on all bills on top of that.
Oncor tells The Watchdog the 19% increase, approved by the Public Utility Commission, is to help cover the cost of added equipment to handle North Texas’ growth.
Thanks to readers Jerome Giambalvo of Coppell, Doug Archer of Dallas and Phil Caron of Fort Worth for alerting The Watchdog about this.
Why such high prices?
What do Texas experts say about these price jumps?
Ed Hirs, an energy fellow at the University of Houston, says the banning of Griddy, which sold power at wholesale prices, removed a major incentive for retailers to keep their prices down to compete.
He says the increase in natural gas prices we’re seeing is another cause because many Texas power plants run on gas. He blames hurricanes which struck the Gulf of Mexico.
He also blames the Texas government’s bailout allowing companies to recoup billions of lost dollars during the horrific February freezeout through the purchase of $6.5 billion in bonds. Those costs will be passed on to consumers.
When the Texas Legislature sided with companies over consumers, he said, “You know the game is fixed.”
Beth Garza, who served until 2019 as the independent monitor of grid operator ERCOT, said companies selling one-year contracts must anticipate higher prices expected to increase during the length of those contracts.
James Boyle, who once led Texas’ Office of Public Utility Counsel, said: “We all know that what happened in the legislative session is that everybody was taken care of except the home folks. And the consumer pays for everybody else’s mistakes. I think that’s reflected in those prices.”
Kelso King, who runs King Energy Consulting and monitors all Public Utility Commission meetings, warns that still to come is the pass-through to consumers of the multi-billion-dollar bailout for energy companies. That was the solution approved by lawmakers and Gov. Greg Abbott.
King added, “For decades, policymakers kept saying that the great thing about a competitive market was that all of the risks would be borne by generators instead of ratepayers. But when it came down to it, unsurprisingly, end use customers were left holding the bag.”
Buy electricity in Texas
Here are some shopping tips from citizens of my Watchdog Nation.
Judy Ruby-Brown of Coppell was skeptical of Texas Power Switch, which works through cities, mostly, to buy electricity in bulk discount. When I assured her it’s a solid program, she ran the numbers, comparing other companies to it, and declared it the “real deal.” She still predicts she’ll spend $300 more on electricity than she did last year.
Nancy Upson of Dallas discovered one of the dirty secrets: If you buy a 1,000 kWh plan and your usage is above or below that exact amount each month, your rate skyrockets. She says consumers must strive to hit the mark, even if it is wasteful. This applies to 500 kWh and 2,000 kWh plans, too.
Dick Bunting of Bonham discovered that some companies that appear at the top of PowerToChoose.org with supposed low rates charge a $14.99 setup fee.
“Wonder how many folks have been fooled by this,” he asks.
Pam King of Houston says to be wary of outside consultants. Check their reviews and also electricity company reviews, too. Watch out for bait and switch, she says.
A retail company may try to sell you a different plan than the one you want. She says, “They’ll tell you it’s cheaper or has some sort of perk. One company tried to sell me a plan with an air conditioning maintenance contract included.”
She filed a complaint with the PUC on her current provider for charging the wrong transmission fee.
“I’m not the crazy one,” she concluded. “It’s the whole dysfunctional system.”
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