Power switch questions keep coming; we keep getting you answers on how to get best deal

Electric competition community meeting for District 4 and 5 in Lubbock, Texas

(Photo: Electric competition meeting in the Jr. League of Lubbock)

Seeking answers and the best deal from new power providers, roughly 200 people showed up Tuesday evening inside the Junior League of Lubbock for a meeting hosted by the district 4 & 5 city council members.

From January 5 through February 15, Lubbock Power and Light customers must choose a different power provider.

They had lots of questions, which we get to below.

Here’s one answer for anyone who watches the TV ads during a Texas Rangers game. “Don’t chase gimmicks.”

The ads promise free electricity during nights and weekends. Free – that’s the best deal, right?

“Just know, nothing’s free,” said Matt Rose, LP&L’s public affairs & government relations manager. He said the normal rate might be 25 cents per kilowatt-hour, much higher than plans starting at 11.2 cents.

“Look further into it,” Rose said.

That’s what we’ll do right now. LubbockLights.com combined and summarized questions from the crowd.

  • Electric competition community meeting for District 4 and 5 in Lubbock, Texas

(Slideshow: Electric competition meeting in the Jr. League of Lubbock)

Are there any local providers?

“There’s one in particular. Abundance is a local company,” Rose said.

LubbockLights.com checked the website for Abundance Energy which said, “As the only Lubbock-born electricity provider, Abundance makes it easy to get the reliable energy you need.”

LP&L urged providers to have a local office in Lubbock. But it’s not required, Rose said.

Do I need good customer service?

One man asked if he could just overlook the customer service ratings. Rose said good customer service sometimes comes with a better smart-phone app which can save you money.

“I do care about being able to know what my usage is,” Rose said. “It allows you to make better decisions on your end in terms of how much electricity you use.”

“Who is the most available to me if I need it?” Rose asked rhetorically. Some providers only give an 800 number. Others do much more.

“There’s a chat box. There’s a good email back and forth. There is a customer service line that you get through quickly,” Rose said.

We liked budget billing! Can we get that back?

Yes. Most of them do offer budget billing or average billing, Rose said. But you need to make sure.

Can landlords and tenants keep the power on when moving in or moving out?

Landlords can be the account holder and simply pass on the bill to a renter, Rose said. Or the tenant can hold the account.

But there is a more sophisticated option. Rose said property managers can request a continuous service agreement. The renter pays the electric bill, but if anything goes wrong, the bill switches to the landlord. The debt stays with the renter, but control stays with the landlord.

Is there a cancelation fee for moving from one house to another?

If you move but you stay inside your provider’s territory, you’re in good shape, Rose said. Otherwise, check the terms of service for cancelation fees.

Fixed rate or variable rate?

The truly variable rates are gone, Rose said – a victim of Winter Storm Uri in 2021. Rose said people in Texas got stuck with bills up to $9,000 during the storm. The Legislature outlawed that kind of risk.

“My strong recommendation is to get a fixed rate,” Rose said.

Will auto payments carry over?

No. Anyone on auto payments will need to set them again with the new provider.

What about solar buybacks?

LubbockLights.com did not find solar buybacks through the fact sheets at powertochoose.org, however a Google search revealed them on provider websites.

“You’re going to want to shop for that,” Rose said to the woman who asked if she could sell her excess solar power.

Did the city give my email and phone number to these companies?

Yes. The city gave your personal information to the providers (in something called the mass customer list) unless you opted out.

If I do not have a computer, how do I choose?

The city libraries offer free internet access. You can pick up paper copies of detailed information at LP&L’s office, 1401 Avenue K.

Are churches in a bad position?

“I’m worried about churches. I really am,” Rose said.

Churches are small compared to other commercial accounts, and their electric usage fluctuates. That makes it harder to get a good deal, he said.

“I’ve regularly told small-to-medium sized churches y’all band together. Call these providers and say, ‘We’ve got 10, 11, 12 churches strong with us. We’d like for you to see what you can offer,’” Rose said.

Can landlords and businesses do that?

That also works for a landlord with many separate properties. And businesses too.

“For example, the Chamber of Commerce, for all of their business members, they’ve got a buyers program,” Rose said.

The chamber’s website said, “The Chamber’s Power Buying Program is a cooperative led by a team of energy experts with experience helping businesses negotiate the best rates and navigate complicated contract terms.”

Search the best deal based on usage history

“If you go on your electric bill today, you’ll see at the bottom, there’s a chart. That’s going to give you your last 12 months every month,” Rose said.

That’s important because providers offer different prices for 500 kilowatt-hours, 1,000 and 2,000.

Please remind us, when are the shopping fairs?

The retail electric provider shopping fairs will be in the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center as follows.

Friday, Jan. 5, 3-9 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 6, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Monday, Jan. 22, 3 p.m.-8 p.m.
Tuesday, Jan. 23, 3 p.m.-8 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 10, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Meter fee, power outages, a new texting feature and pesky peddlers

The meter fee will remain $8.07 per month for residential customers or $30 for customers with solar panels.

After the switch to new electric providers, Lubbock Power and Light will still take care of the electric lines. So an outage is still handled locally. Rose said the utility is working on a new texting feature to let you know about power outages.

“If there’s an outage at your house, you get a text that says, ‘We show that your power’s out.’ We know you’re out. We’re on it,” he said,

Finally, if you see someone going door to door without a peddler’s permit, please call the police department’s non-emergency number 806-775-2816.

“I know they are as frustrated as we are about folks running around out there illegally,” Rose said.


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 EverythingLubbock.com for nearly 10 years.