How my wife and I navigated all these choices on picking an electricity provider

James and Rebecca Clark, choosing a power provider in Lubbock, Texas

(Image: James and Rebecca Clark)

With less than two weeks before the deadline to choose a power provider, my wife and I are close to making a decision. We’ve narrowed more than 60 options down to five.

“I don’t want to spend hours on this,” my wife said. “I have better things to do with my life.”

She’s got a point.

We know we’re going to pay more than the current rates and know our price limit, which I’ll explain in a bit.

We’re not experts and you should make your own choice. But here’s how we sorted things. We’re not going to share who we picked. The point of this story is to share what I’ve learned through all our stories to guide you through the process, not do an endorsement.

Who are James and Rebecca

I’m James. Rebecca is my wife of more than 25 years. Fun fact, she was born in West Texas not too far from U.S. Highway 67. I was born in Illinois not too far from that same highway.

My first full day in Lubbock was May 6, 1996. There was a credit union robbery that day. There was also an ongoing drought with a community prayer campaign for rain on the plains. “Time Marches On” by Tracy Lawrence was a big hit back then.

I’ve been in journalism in one form or another since 1989 when I wrote for my high school newspaper. But radio was my first love. I only did TV news after graduating college because it paid better.

Rebecca first saw me on TV news, more specifically KAMC 28. She told her dad to go get me. He did.

Before getting started

I’ve been covering Lubbock’s switch to electric competition since the re-launch of Lubbock Lights. Often, Rebecca proofreads my stories for spelling, grammar and punctuation before I ship them off to editor Terry Greenberg. She also attended the Jan. 5 shopping fair with me at the Civic Center. She’s got a good grasp of things.

She’s also in charge of the money so she knows exactly how much we spend on electricity. We rent and the landlord has given a blessing for us to pick a provider.

No solar.No electric vehicle. The home is 1,128 square feet. We use between 750 and 2,000 kwh depending on the month.

Let’s dive in

Rebecca and I started with on a laptop computer and put in our zip code. Yes, you can get to the website on your smart phone. But it’s easier to navigate on a computer.

The full list is just too long for us to consider every option.

We want a fixed rate without a minimum usage requirement. As we got further in, we also decided against time-of-use plans. (Free weekends are not free.) We also filtered the results for three stars or better on customer service. We’re not interested in prepaid, so those got filtered out too.

These next two items are huge.

We currently pay 14.1 cents per kwh and if Lubbock Power & Light had stuck around as the provider, our all-in summer rate would have been set at 16.74 cents. That’s the price to beat, so we filtered the results to no higher than 16.74.

We do not want to renew in summer. So, we want a plan for 12 months or more. At first that’s 33 plans. Later we also filtered out anything more than 24 months. That got us down to 27 plans.

The cheaper plans are at the top.

“OK, so the cheapest one is 15.5,” Rebecca said while wondering what happened to plans in the 13-cent range.

“They were all three-and-four-month plans, which means you’re gonna renew right in the middle of summer,” I said. “And that’s no fun.”

More coverage of the Big Switch:

“This first one from Gexa says it’s 100 percent renewable,” Rebecca said.

But we found out 100 percent renewable comes with a technicality. A provider will purchase renewable energy certificates from solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, biogas, or hydro-electric sources. It’s more like an offset than power coming directly to you from a sweet little wind farm in Floyd County.

“Let’s also look at the company history, see why it’s a three star,” Rebecca said. I clicked the link for complaint history which gave us an overview for six months.

Nearly all were for billing. Few were for slamming and none were for cramming. Slamming is getting switched to a provider without your permission. Cramming is getting stuff crammed onto your bill you did not agree to.

We go to the fact sheet. The rate is the same for 500, 1,000 and 2,000 kilowatt hours. The rate we will pay, if we go with this plan, is 9.1 cents from Gexa and 6.442 for Lubbock Power and Light. That adds up to roughly 15.5.

“And then of course $150 to go away early,” I pointed out. In other words, there’s a termination fee.

“I do not see a base charge on this one,” she responded. That’s good.

Gexa Eco-Choice 12 – Rebecca wrote down the first of five plans on a pad.

If 12 is good, what about 24

“All right, so next is going to be the same thing, but it’s going to be 24 months,” I pointed out to Rebecca.

“No, we don’t want the 24 month,” she responded

“Besides,” she continued, “The cancelation fee is $290.”

I eventually persuaded her to look at 24 months, but not for this plan. I get it. She doesn’t want to make a long-term commitment when we’re both new at this.

“Because anything can happen in a year,” she said.

Looking at Octopus

Next up was Octopus 12 with electric vehicle. We don’t have an EV and we really don’t anticipate getting one in the next 12 months.

“Can you imagine trying to drive to Iowa in an electric vehicle?” she asked. Nope.

“Next is Octopus 12 with smart thermostat connected,” I informed her.

“I am not interested in that,” she promptly informed me. “I do not want somebody else being able to control my thermostat, thank you. No!”


Next up was Champion.

“Champion has a five-star rating,” I said. “Going to hit the complaint history.”

“Fewer complaints,” I said while scrolling. “That’s why they’ve got better stars.”

It turns out this first quote for 15.9 cents was their electric vehicle plan. The fact sheet went into detail about charging hours and non-charging hours. That didn’t work for us.

There were two other Champion plans we considered – Champ Saver 12 at 16.1 cents with a cancelation fee of $150 and Champ Saver 24 at 15.9 and a cancelation fee of $250.

Rebecca wrote those down for a total of three.


Let’s see if Amigo is our friend.

“So, Amigo has three stars,” I told Rebecca. I then pulled up the complaint history and found mostly it was billing.

The three-year plan is for 15.9 but that’s too long. The 12-month plan was 16.5. We moved on.


Abundance is the only local provider.

“I would like to play local if we could, that would be nice,” Rebecca said.

“Right off the top,” I responded, “at 500 kilowatts, you’ve got one price and 1,000 you’ve got a different price, and at 2,000 you’ve got yet a completely different price.”

“Let’s do some math real quick,” she said. The rate is 16.4 with a base charge of $5 per month, plus taxes and fees.

“You realize from here on out, it’s just getting more expensive, right?” I asked. She knew.


Rebecca reminded me that Reliant sent us a flier that if we sign up with a 24-month plan, we can get $300 up front and another $300 halfway in.

“I don’t know that I’m interested in that,” I said. Neither was she. But she brought it up just in case.

To its credit, Reliant is a five-star company. But we only found two plans – one is a variable-rate and the other is more than we want to spend.

Discount Power

“Discount power has a three-star rating,” I told Rebecca. The 12-month plan is 16.3 cents. I also pointed out the customer history included slamming. There’s a cancelation fee of $150.

“Do we like this one?” she asked.

“I’m 50/50 on this one,” I answered. “If we had more experience with this, we could probably take more risks on customer service, but since we’re brand new, I think that puts us at a bias in favor of the better customer service.”

She felt the same but wrote it down. That’s four on the list.

Clean Sky

Clean Sky gets four stars for customer service. That’s good. There’s no monthly base charge. The termination fee is $150.

The price is higher at 16.4.

But Rebecca liked the better customer service rating and said, “We’re gonna write them down.”

That’s all five.

What if

We looked at a few more but with each step the price was going up.

We wanted to know if we had been willing to completely ignore the customer service ratings, could we have gotten a better deal.

“Let’s look and see. I’m terrified,” Rebecca said.

“So, it only added one plan that was cheaper — Frontier at 15.4 cents,” I told her after taking away the filter for customer service rating.

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Author: James Clark- James Clark is the associate editor of Lubbock Lights. He worked in radio, television and digital media for a combined total of more than 30 years. He was Director of Digital News Content at KAMC, KLBK and for nearly 10 years.