Prepaid electricity and no–deposit electricity plans are an ideal choice for those who don’t want to deal with a credit check or be forced to provide identification in order to get their lights turned on. But how should people go about finding the right plan?
Most providers of prepaid electricity have plans that begin at around $30 of prepaid credit. Because there’s never a credit check or up-front deposit, the only expense is the amount of money you choose to place in the prepaid account.
Comparing plans is easy. Simply look at the month-to-month options for the variable plans and compare those costs to what you’d pay for a fixed-rate 6-month plan. Since you don’t have to put a deposit down, you only need to compare your overall cost. Month-to-month is better for some people, while others prefer a fixed-rate plan for a set number of months.
All prepaid electricity providers include a summary sheet of information so you can make an informed choice about plans. For example, each summary sheet will list the official name of a particular plan—whether it’s month-to-month or set for multiple months—and will show the cost per kilowatt-hour for the plan. You can simply scan the various electricity plans based on your preferences as to the length of the plan or the cost per kilowatt-hour.
In Texas, some electricity providers want to make sure that customers use a specific amount of power each month. If the customer does not, then there is a minimum usage fee charged to the account. This is NOT the case with prepaid electricity plans. A provider who charges a minimum fee does not have to list it out as a separate item, so make sure you inspect your electricity bill carefully. This is particularly important if you are not using a prepaid provider.
Yes. According to state law, based on rules set out by the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT), each provider must offer written bills that are easy to understand. If you have a prepaid plan, however, you might not get a written bill because you are “paying as you go” and not subject to monthly charges except for the electricity you pay for. Some plans offer an e-bill that is sent to you via email.
There are no fees for switching electricity providers. For customers who do not use a prepaid light company, there can sometimes be a special assessment if they ask for their meter to be read. Companies can also charge regular customers who break their standard contracts, but that point does not apply to prepaid electricity customers. Always check with your current electricity provider to see how far you are from the end of your contract term. Some providers do charge a termination fee if you end your contract before it is officially complete.
You can begin electricity service any time you choose. There are no special starting days or times for service to begin. But if you sign a brand new contract with a provider, you will receive a small confirmation card in the mail. At that point, you can still change your mind if you want to. You have up to three days to do so. Otherwise, your new electricity plan will begin within three business days of when you made the switch. If you are not in a prepaid plan, then expect your first bill to arrive in the mail as soon as the current billing cycle is over.
After receiving a term of service agreement, you have up to three business days to cancel a contract. This is true even if you signed up online. If you do receive a confirmation in the mail before you cancel, the confirmation will explain how to cancel the contract.
When you move but stay within the service provider’s area, all you need to do is notify their office and provide your new address. When you move to another service area and call the company with your new address, they will usually waive any charges or fees associated with ending a contract prematurely. You will need to offer the representative proper form of validation of your new address.
You do not have to inform your prior provider that you have switched. The new electricity provider will handle that detail for you. When your new bill arrives in the mail or by email, simply pay it and you will officially begin your new plan. You should expect to receive a final bill from your prior provider if you still owe them any money.
According to Texas law, an electricity provider must continue to supply power to customers even when the provider goes out of business or intends to cease operation in the near future. You will possibly get a different provider who acts as a substitute for the one going out of business. It’s then up to you to continue with the substitute (called a provider of last resort) or choose a new electricity provider.
Simply put, a few unethical providers have violated the law by doing one or both of these things. Slamming refers to the way an electricity provider might force you to change to their service without telling you. Cramming involves the adding of unauthorized charges to electricity bills. Both actions are against the law. If you suspect any electricity provider is engaging in these actions, you should contact the PUCT at 512-936-7000.
Every electricity provider in Texas must notify customers at least 30 days ahead of time before their contract is set to end. You can switch to another provider within two weeks of your contract termination date without any fee or penalty. If you switch earlier than that, the current provider has the right to charge you an early termination fee. For customers who do nothing in response to a contract termination notice, the provider can continue to service the customer with a month-to-month electricity plan, which might have substantially higher rates.
Usually, an electricity provider that under-bills you has up to six months to correct the error and bill you for the corrected amount. However, when the corrected bill is more than $50 higher than the original bill, you have the right to ask the electricity provider to let you use a deferred payment plan to make up the difference. In cases where customers have tampered with their meters, which is an illegal act, the electricity provider can re-bill the customer well beyond the usual six-month re-billing time limit.
Yes. Any retail electricity provider in Texas can charge a deposit that is up to 20 percent of the estimated annual charge for electricity for that customer. In cases where a customer has good credit, the company can choose to charge no deposit at all or charge a reduced deposit.
In order to disconnect electricity service, providers must go through a series of legally mandated actions. They must notify the customer that the service is going to be disconnected, explain why it’s being disconnected, and state the exact date on which the disconnection will take place. There are some special circumstances in which your electricity might be cut off. Those include public emergencies, unsafe conditions, or instances of meter tampering by a customer.
Disclaimer: © October 2020 PayGO Distributors, LLC. This is an advertisement for prepaid electric service from PayGO Distributors, LLC., an independent energy sales organization. Energy services are provided by Young Energy, LLC DBA Payless Power REP#10110 and Brooklet Energy Distribution, LLC DBAs Acacia Energy, Snap Energy Latino, and Now Power REP#10137. There is a minimum required payment to establish a connection. Call for more information on minimum required payments, balances, and specific terms of service and promotional details. Utility fees may also apply and may increase the total amount that you pay. Offers subject to termination or change without notice. Se habla Español.
* Rates quoted are at 2,000 kWh per the Electricity Facts Label for Oncor. Please check EFL for your effective rate.
** Order must be placed online before 4pm CST. Meter must not be subject to a switch hold.
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