Electricity City Highlight on Houston, TX in 2012

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Using WhiteFence Index data spanning 2012, we examine trends and identify points of interest as they apply to consumers in the Houston, Texas electricity market.

houston electricity highlight, usage, bills, variable rate plan, fixed rate plan

According to EIA.gov data, the average monthly electricity consumption for a Texas residential utility customer was 1,262 kWh, meaning that the average yearly total consumption is 15,144 kWh.

In addition to the above data, seasonal variation of electricity sales to retail consumers in Texas from month to month was used to put together a trend line showing usage for an average Texas residential utility customer for the year (Graph 1). Using our index data, which uses samples of fixed rates that Houston providers are offering at the time the data is gathered, WhiteFence also put together a chart showing average electricity bills paid by Houston residents in 2012 (Graph 2).

It is clear that for Houstonians, bills are mostly affected by changes in usage across the year. The trend for bills is very similar to the trend for usage. But Houston is also a deregulated state- meaning customers have choices when it comes to their electricity plan and provider. Using an example of a fixed rate that was offered earlier in the year by one provider and publicly reported historical rates billed to customers of variable rate plans from another provider, WhiteFence created a graph that compares what customers with these rates would have paid over a period of one year (Graph 3).

Comparing these two overlaid trends, it is clear that on average, Houstonians with a good fixed rate plan will have lower monthly bills than Houstonians with a variable rate plan and comparable usage. Sometimes, these bills will be significantly lower. For example, in August, the monthly bill was $155.46 on the fixed rate plan, but $286.64 on the variable rate plan! How much a customer could save per month, of course, depends on the customer's current rate and type of plan.

Demonstrated by this example, a customer that was previously on a typical variable rate plan switching to a good fixed rate plan could potentially save over $600 in a year (Graph 4).

So what is a "good fixed rate" in Houston? Of the samples used each month in the WhiteFence Index for Houston in 2012, there was usually an offer with a base rate of between 8 and 8.5 c/kWh from at least one provider, and with a base monthly fee of under $10. Current rates and packages available at your address can be found at WhiteFence.com. Be sure to carefully read the Electricity Facts Label (EFL) for any plan you are considering to make sure you understand how your bill will be calculated each month on that particular plan, and make note of any additional service fees or delivery fees. For some providers, per kWh delivery fees can be almost as much as the base rate itself.

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Lindsey Hieb
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houston electricity highlight, usage, bills, variable rate plan, fixed rate plan