11606RE: [hreg] renewable electricity
- May 5, 2013
I’m not an expert, but have shopped for REPs several times and have a few comments.
First, I don’t think any of the green power companies truly sell green, since we all tap into the same grid. Most of the renewable energy content is provided by buying credits/offsets. They wouldn’t be able to tell you the source since they just buy the offset/credit.
Second, agree on the base charge issue. A few have <900 or <800 but most are <1000 kwh. One even has a $19.95 base charge. Look carefully, because they don’t all handle TDU and smartmeter charges the same; some include it in the base charge and some don’t. In most cases, the TDU includes a fixed monthly charge (in addition to its per kwh charge) regardless of usage, so it makes sense for the REP to pass that along. But it definitely penalizes you for becoming energy efficient. I’ve added insulation and adjusted my thermostat so that I’m <1000 on about half the year. I wrote the PUC to complain but didn’t even get a response. I don’t see them as very strong consumer advocates let alone green power/efficiency advocates. The way it stands, you are being incentivized to INCREASE your power usage if you fall into the “between zone” typically somewhere in the 800-1000 kwh range. Below that zone you are paying less than you would with 1000 kwh usage simply because you use so little power that even the base charge doesn’t make it more expensive to save, but once you are in the zone, it is actually cheaper to burn more kwh to get the usage >999 so that you don’t incur the base charge.
TruSmart seems gimmicky to me, btw. They have “free energy Sundays” (or was it Saturdays?) on one plan. But, as with Reliant’s time-of-use plan, if you calculate it all out you’ll find it more expensive than a regular plan. I don’t know why after paying for our smartmeters they can’t offer us time-of-use plans that actually let us save money when we reduce peak loads on the system, but nobody has that yet. I exchanged several emails with someone in PUC on this matter and they couldn’t help me either.
Can anyone explain what is going on with renewable content in our electricity? I'm shopping for a new provider on http://www.powertochoose.org/ and I came across this statement on the Electricity Fact Label for TruSmart Energy.
"Renewable Content 100% (A ‘green’ product may include Texas natural gas and renewable energy.)"
A year ago I went with Mission Power's Green product which said 100% renewable, but I always got the impression they were a natural gas company and when I asked the source they didn't answer. At renewal time they offered me 'fixed rate product' (10.3 cents) with 0% renewable. So, I'm shopping again.
I notice that a lot of them have a $10 usage charge <1000 kwh, which seems to be designed to penalize solar or energy conservative homes. Any advice?
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