When shopping for electricity in Houston you have an array of companies and plans from which to choose. Energy providers include Direct Energy, Reliant Energy, Cibro Energy, Spark Energy, Gexa, Champion Energy and a host of others. Your selection should depend on several factors including the area in which you live and your energy consumption, as electricity rates for commercial areas are significantly higher than for residential areas.
Some electric companies in Houston provide their services based on a contract for a specified time period -- if you cancel before the contract ends you have to pay a penalty. A few also offer month-to-month plans for which there is no minimum contractual period; such flexible, non-contract plans include Direct Energy's Liberty Plan, Reliant Energy's Clear Flex Plan, Pollution Free by Green Mountain Energy and Pay-as-you-go by Payless Energy.
When you're researching different energy options, you can investigate how much of the electricity is generated by renewable resources such as solar, wind, biomass or hydroelectric generators. Electricity generated by natural gas, which is the cleanest of available fuels, is also considered "green." In Houston, some companies offer plans that provide electricity generated from renewable resources. Green Mountain Energy provides 100 percent renewable energy in all three of its plans; this is why these plans are labeled as "Pollution Free." Other plans with 100 percent renewable energy include Go Green by Dinowatt, Pure Texas Wind plan by Direct Energy and 100 percent Wind by TXU Energy.
Rates and Schedules
In fixed schedule plans, your energy rates remain stable throughout the time period specified in the contract. While fixed schedules help you budget effectively, you cannot enjoy any reduction in market prices before your contract ends. In variable rate schedules, on the other hand, the rates can change according to the market; while in indexed schedules, the rates vary based on a certain predefined formula. Plans offering fixed rates include Nifty 9 and Terrific 12 by Bounce Energy, Price Protection Plan by Direct Energy and Pollution Free 6- and 12-month plans by Green Mountain Energy. Most other plans offer variable rates.
Prices per kilowatt hour largely depend on the area in which you intend to buy electricity. Be sure to compare rates for your specific zip code, noting the price per unit. Check out the rates each company offers and compare plans both across companies and within each company. For example, as of June 2011, Payless Power provides the priciest units, at around 13 to 15 cents per kilowatt; Thrifty Saver plan by Bounce Energy is the cheapest, followed by Direct Energy's Liberty plan.
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