Last minute insights before Thursday’s deadline to choose a power provider

Choosing a power provider in Lubbock, Texas

There’s a lot of confusion in Lubbock.

Three competing power providers agreed approaching Thursday’s deadline for electric choice. Lubbock Power & Light customers who don’t make a choice will end up with a default provider: Reliant, TXU or Octopus.

As of Wednesday morning, 45 percent of power customers made a choice.

Jason Canas, an independent representative for Ambit Energy, said, “There’s so many people that have never dealt with the deregulation before and they’re scared.”

Good news. If you really mess up there’s an escape hatch. Keep reading.

We asked the Residential Electric Providers or their independent agents to give advice for last-minute shoppers.

Here’s the problem

Jaime Perez, an independent advisor for Think Energy said when he first started looking at deregulation in Lubbock, “It was hard for me.”

“There’s a lot of information that residents and business owners have to kind of sift through,” Perez said.

Continuing coverage: The Big Switch

Canas said, “There’s so many different options, so many different companies, so many different plans out there. They don’t know who to believe – which company to go with.”

As of Tuesday, listed 65 plans for Lubbock. Not every provider presents the same information in a sales pitch.

Dominick Caponigro, an authorized consultant representing Xoom Energy, said, “There are companies that are quoting prices that are not indicative of what you’re really gonna pay ‘all-in.’”

If a company says the price is 12 cents, Caponigro said, there’s a good chance that does not include LP&L’s 6.442 cent delivery charge.

Read the label

One of the most powerful tools, all three of our advisors agreed, was the Electric Facts Label or EFL. The label allows you to compare companies much more directly.

“A majority of Lubbock is not aware of the EFL, so they don’t know to look at that,” Canas said.

Perez said, “You know, it can be confusing to look at it first.”

The label has both an energy charge and a delivery charge. Together, that adds up to the total rate. But there can also be a monthly base charge and a cancelation fee.

It’s important, when talking to companies, to find a sales representative who will explain the label and how to read it, Caponigro said.

“Maybe a salesperson who’s not too pushy and is willing to answer any and all questions that you may have,” he added.

Cheaper but not really

The lowest rates on were for three-month plans. That gets you to June.

Canas said, “You’re gonna be renewing this summer when rates are always the highest.”

Unless you’re working a short-term job and planning to leave, or something like that, Canas suggested avoiding those short-term plans.

Caponigro said, “I personally would choose the longest contract I could get and lock into a maybe a 36-month fixed rate.”

A plan to fit your needs

Some companies charge differently for 500 kwh as compared to 1,000 or 2,000 kwh. Some companies offer free weekends but charge more during the week. And so forth.

Perez said, “Everyone’s household has specific needs. Some people use less than 500 kilowatts.”

Ask for the rate you need, Canas said, and “not just a blanket rate.”

“Make sure whoever they go with or talk to – make sure they analyze their current bill,” Canas said. “About 75 to 80 percent of Lubbock uses 1,200 kilowatts or less.”

If you don’t choose

We mentioned if you do not choose a provider, you get assigned to a default provider. How much will you pay for power at that point?

Matt Rose, public affairs & government relations manager for the city-owned utility, said the price for default providers is not final yet.

It will be the average rate in Lubbock, which isn’t known until early March.

Caponigro said, “LP&L is gonna place the remaining people with one of three companies. And who knows what that price will be? I think that you would get a more favorable outcome if you choose your own.”

Perez took a different approach.

“If you have trusted LP&L up to this point and are 100 percent satisfied with how they’ve represented you, then let them choose for you. If you are not, I would advise everyone to shop around.”

The escape hatch

Some providers charge a cancelation fee so it’s good to choose the right provider up front.

But if you don’t, you get a second chance.

Canas said, “LP&L is allowing switch plus one.”

“February 15th is the cutoff,” Canas said. “Between then and the March 5th kickoff date, they’re still allowing people to switch to a different company with no penalties because the service hasn’t started yet.”

“So, that’s still reassuring,” he said. But, you only get to do that once after the deadline. It’s “switch plus one” not switch-plus-however-many.

The advisors we talked to:
• Jason Canas, Ambit Energy, (832) 331-0402, [email protected]
• Jamie Perez, Think Energy, (325) 829-7475, [email protected]
• Dominick Caponigro, Xoom Energy, (845) 494-4077, [email protected]

Comment or share on our Facebook page

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.