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Frequently Asked Questions

The electricity industry is comprehensive and ever changing, so it is normal to have questions. Take a look at some common questions residential owners and business owners ask Shop My Power, and if you don’t find an answer to your questions here, feel free to contact us: contact@shopmypower.com

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Shopping for Residential Electricity Providers

How do I find out about electric companies that provide service to my location?

Finding electricity companies in your area is easy! Simply enter your location information in our Rate Directory, and we’ll show you the electricity providers available in your location.

Is there any benefit to shopping around for electricity?

Yes, it is beneficial to shop around for the best electric service provider. The electrons are all the same quality. The question is, who will sell them for less?

Does the reliability of electric service fluctuate from company to company?

No. In most states, electricity suppliers have to be licensed by the state’s Public Utility Commission. This ensures that quality, reliability and maintenance remain the same regardless of what electric company provides the power.

Is there a place I can go to compare the prices of different electric companies in my area?

Absolutely. In most states, the law requires electricity providers to disclose details pertaining to their various plans via an Electricity Facts Label. This list of facts offers information regarding a plan’s energy rates, fees and terms and conditions. To view different companies’ offers and rates in your area, head over to our compare electricity products list and enter your location information.

If I elect to choose a new electric company, how much time does it take to actually switch to that company?

You can choose to receive service from another electric company at any time. If you live in Texas, you will receive confirmation in the mail from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) upon signing a contract with a new electric service provider. After getting confirmation in the mail, you will have up to three business days to cancel. The actual switch to your new electricity provider should occur within a week, and you will get your first bill during the next billing cycle. If you have a question about switching protocol in states other than Texas, feel free to contact us.

What about fixed vs. variable prices?

When thinking about switching electric companies, it’s important to learn if your prospective provider offers fixed or variable electricity prices. It’s also very helpful to know the specifics of each so you can make an educated decision.

• Fixed Rate – A fixed rate represents an all-inclusive price that stays the same for a certain amount of time – generally three billing cycles (at minimum) or the term of the contract. This type of rate gives you peace of mind knowing that prices will remain the same throughout the duration of your contract agreement. One downside of a fixed rate stems from the fact that if market prices decrease, there’s a possibility that you’ll have to wait until your contract expires to receive a lower price.

• Variable Rate – A variable rate represents an all-inclusive price that can fluctuate in accordance to the terms and conditions laid out in your electricity supplier’s disclosure statement. This type of rate has the ability to save you money if the market prices go down. On the other hand, you may have to pay more if market prices increase.

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Shopping Commercial Electricity Providers

What do you mean by “the best deal?”

The best deal is more than a low price. A great deal offers a clean contract, no “gotchas” or surprises and the lowest bill possible.

I see lower rates on the internet – are those rates truly lower?

If commercial rates are advertised online, they are often artificially low. Read more about how prices can be deceiving

How do I know my information will be safe?

We are bound by laws that prevent us from signing you up without your written signature on a contract. We will never sell your information.

What if I am under contract?

No problem! Let us know when your contract end date is and we can sign you up NOW to start on that date. You can sign a contract today that starts in the future.

What if I currently have no power therefore no bill!

No Problem, we can walk you through that.

What if I have a disconnection notice?

No problem, we can still help you find a great deal.

What if am moving to a new location?

Moves are handled on a case by case basis, depending on the sale or lease agreements.

What will change on my bill?

It depends on who you buy power from. We will tell you what you can expect when we view your invoices during the quote process.

What if I am tax exempt?

We will make sure your contract notes that you are a not for profit.

When does pricing expire?

In most cases, each Day at 4:00 pm CST.

Do I have to sign the contract the same day prices are given?

Yes. The market moves every fifteen minutes. Prices are only good for the day they are offered and sometimes even less time than that.

What if my boss needs more time to make a decision?

No problem. Just let us know when you will need refreshed pricing and we will get that to you.

Can I add a residential meter to our commercial contract?

In some cases.

Will my service be interrupted if I switch?

No. Never.

Will I get power outages or electrical problems if I switch?

No. Never. If you do get power outages or have electrical problems, it is not because you switched providers.

What if the market rates go down after I sign a contract? Can I get the lower rate?

No. Once you a sign a legally binding contract you are bound to that deal for the term.

What if the market rates go up after I sign a contract? Will I have to pay more too?

Never. However, if there is a change in the law you may have to pay a different rate.

Why are delivery fees so high?

See below regarding delivery (TDSPs)

I don’t like my utility – Can I change my delivery company too?

We understand your concerns. But your electricity has ONE delivery system – the poles and wires you see outside are IT!

Why is my utility charging me for “estimated readings!?”

As it turns out, the utility is within its rights to estimate bills. State regulators allow electric companies to estimate meter readings.

What are the benefits of switching to a retail supplier?

• Suppliers can offer long term fixed rates. Utilities often change the pricing each season, and in the event of tragedy or weather, can charge you whatever they decide, as there is no contract with you. Remember, you can’t leave your utility regarding delivery. They are your poles and wires you see outside. What you can do is choose someone else to supply your electricity through those poles and wires at a better price and on better terms.

• Suppliers can offer you fixed, variable, and block contracted products. The utility often offers only one or two options.

• When you are with a supplier you can shop ahead of time when prices are low for your next contract. This is a huge benefit. Suppliers can be more competitive than Utilities, and often you can save money by switching away

• When you are with a supplier you can shop ahead of time when prices are low for your next contract. This is a huge benefit. Suppliers can be more competitive than Utilities, and often you can save money by switching away

I think am ready to switch, what do I need to know?

• Remember that it can take anywhere from 4-30 days to switch from the utility the first time you switch from utility, depending on which state you are in. Do not wait until the last minute. In Texas the switch is 1-3 business days.

• Remember that pricing changes every day. Be sure to ask for pricing on the day you will be considering it and signing your contract. Old prices will not “still be good” days or weeks later. Contracts sent in late will most likely be rejected. Responsiveness is key.

• If you choose to work with a broker, we suggest you work with only ONE broker. Pricing is given out to brokers on a first come first case basis. There is no need to have multiple folks shopping the same suppliers.

• A bill copy will be required to get started. Sometimes an LOA will be required. This allows for us to look at your usage and see how you use power so we can get the best rates/terms and make recommendations.

I owe money on my bills (plus I wrote all over it). Do I really need to send a bill copy to you?

Don’t you worry. We will be writing all over it, too. A lot of territories do not require credit approval to switch you to a better rate, so don’t worry about balance owed. We need the bill copy for legal name, territory, rate class, meter numbers, service addresses, load size and demand information. Please do send that over. If you owe your utility money, you will often be forced to make arrangements to pay that before you are permitted to switch away.

What does a switch means for my bill?

• Consolidated billing: Some utilities still bill the customer only one bill. In this scenario, there is a portion on your bill for the delivery charges from the utility and a portion on your bill for the supply cost from your supplier.

• Dual Billing: Some territories allow you to receive dual billing, which means you will receive two bills: One from your utility for delivery and another bill from your supplier for supply.

What are TDSP, TDU or DELIVERY charges?

If you go through the electricity bill given by your facility, you will often notice the bill seems high and you might suspect the electric company is making a huge profit off of your electricity consumption. This is not the case. Interestingly, these charges include the amount we pay for electricity per kWh (the supply rate) and the rate we pay to have the electricity delivered to our meters (the delivery rate) These delivery rates are TDSP charges, also called pass through charges or TDU charges.

Can you define TDSP? – Transmission Delivery Service Provider (Our poles and wires company)

After the deregulation of the electricity industry, it has become possible for consumers to purchase power from providers of their choice, based on their needs and budget. However, irrespective of whom we choose as our retail electric provider, we will require a Transmission and Distribution Service Provider or TDSP, who is involved with the physical aspect of providing electricity to electricity consumers. In short, these are people who are in charge of the various poles and wires that provide electricity to the consumer, including its maintenance. In addition, these service providers also read our electricity meters, with regard to our actual usage and send the details to the Retail Electric Provider (REP).

Can you help me understand TDSP charges in Texas? (other states have the same idea.)

In Texas, these TDSP companies do not directly bill the Texas electricity consumers for their services. They charge the REPs (Retail Electricity Provider) for their services. The REP, in turn, transfers this charge to the consumers, which gets reflected in their bills. We then pass that exact charged amount onto you. Texas TDSP charges are applicable to all consumers, irrespective of which Retail Electric Provider they choose. It is also important to understand that even where these charges are not mentioned separately, they are included in the bill. In other states, customers receive a bill from the utility for both electricity and supply. In still other territories, you may get one bill for delivery and another for supply.

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Energy Deregulation

What is energy deregulation?

Energy deregulation refers to the disbandment of vertically integrated electric utilities brought about by employing free-market standards. The whole idea is to provide the public with lower energy rates and more options with regard to services. The Texas Legislature adopted Senate Bill 7 in 1999, which allowed Texas residents in most regions of the state to choose which electric company, or Retail Electric Provider they want to do business with.

What did the Electricity market look like before deregulation and retail electricity suppliers existed?

For many years, electricity was produced and delivered by the same company. This company is called a Utility. Here are some examples of those utility companies: ConEd in NY, ComEd in IL, ONCOR and Centerpoint in TX, JCP&L in NJ. These utilities historically provided both these services: Supply and Delivery

• Supply – Think of power plants generating power. This power, or the electrons, is the electricity supply.

• Delivery- Look outside at the poles and wires delivering your power and the people reading your meters. This is a delivery system. The utility still oversees delivery exclusively.

**Before deregulation, there was no choice as to whom we could buy our power from, hence power supply and delivery was regulated.

What is electricity deregulation?

About 14 years ago, the laws began to change in certain states. These changes in law allowed business owners to choose who they bought power from. Today, almost half of our United States is deregulated for the supply portion of either natural gas or electricity. In two words, deregulation means: ELECTRIC CHOICE.

**Remember: Delivery is still regulated. When deregulation laws were passed, that did allow for customers in deregulated territories to purchase their power (supply) from anyone they liked (REPs), however the delivery of that power is still managed, maintained, and billed to you by your utility company.

How did Retail Electricity Providers (REPs) come into existence?

When deregulation laws passed, utilities were forced to sell their generation (power plants). These plants were bought by retail companies that planned to sell the supply (electrons) from those power plants to customers in that territory.

These new supply companies have many names; in the south they are called REPs (Retail Electricity Providers), in the north they are called ESCOs, and in the Midwest they are simply called suppliers. Some examples of suppliers: Direct Energy, Constellation New Energy, Just Energy, and Liberty Power. There are hundreds of these REPs in every deregulated state. How will customers know which one to choose?

What is Energy Consulting?

With so many REPs to choose from (none of them presenting pricing, contract language or fees the same way,) it became very confusing for business owners to shop rates for their supply, compare apples to apples offers, and read contract language. A professional community emerged to simplify the process for business owners. We call this community the ABC community: Aggregators, Brokers, and Consultants. The ABC community helps business owners by finding them the best deal for their electric and natural gas supply. In the more mature markets like Texas, over 60% of commercial businesses recognize the value of utilizing an electricity professional to shop for their power

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Switching Residential Electricity Providers

What should I know?

First, you should call your current provider and ask them if you are under contract, and when your contract ends. But don’t let them sign you up because they will sure try! Remember you are trying to get the best deal. If you are within 30-60 days of your end date you must specify upon sign up for your new provider to make the switch on that date. If you are not under contract, you may sign up to switch today.

Will my credit be checked?

Yes, all sign-ups are pending credit approval. Please remember this is your electricity credit history, so it is useful to have 3-6 months history of bills paid on time to ensure you are not declined.

Will I be required to pay a deposit?

Only if your credit is declined, in which case a refundable deposit is usually required, or they will ask you to prove that you paid your current provider on time for a few consecutive months, in which case a deposit can sometimes be waived.

Do I need to notify my provider that I am switching?

No. The providers handle all of that for you. You are responsible for knowing when your start date should be, and for acquiring confirmation from your new provider that they will not switch you away until your current contract ends.

Will there be an interruption in my service?

No. This is all handled electronically now.

How do I shop for electricity?

You can begin by heading to our home page and entering your zip code.

Will I be switched against my will?

Under the state's Energy Competition Law, you cannot be switched to another electricity or natural gas supplier without your permission. That is called "slamming," and there are severe penalties against any company engaging in this practice. If you feel you have been slammed or have questions about a supplier's license, call the Board of Public Utilities at 1.800.624.0241.

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My Electricity Bill

Who will my bill come from?

Your supply bill will either come directly from the supplier or it will be added to your delivery bill. You will never receive a bill from Shop My Power. There is a possibility you will receive two bills in some states. In Texas and New York, it is all on one bill.

Who do I contact if there is a problem with my bill?

For residential billing issues you will contact your supplier. If you are a business with billing problems, you can contact us for help.

What are the parts of a bill?

There are typically three sections to your bill: Energy Supply, Delivery and Transmission (TDU or TDSP or Utility Charges), and Taxes. In a residential bill your rate will be “all in” That is to say, you will pay a certain price per kWh plus tax and that is it. You will not see a line item for delivery in most cases because it is most often bundled. In a commercial bill, your rate per kWh is for supply. Then you will need to take into account delivery charges and taxes. Often delivery can be more expensive than supply for some small businesses.

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Have a Question?

Do you have any questions regarding electricity providers or your power to choose your own electric company? Take a look at some common questions people ask us here at Shop My Power to find answers to your questions.