Then, in 2002, Texas deregulated the electricity market and everybody cheered! Except that, sure, deregulation opened up the market to competition that may (or may not) have resulted in lower rates, but it introduced a whole host of other issues. These issues may not have been factors before but now they’re critical when you’re on the look-out for cheap Houston electricity providers.
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Aside from times of natural disasters and large-scale accidents, electricity prices tend to be steadily dictated by electricity demand. Typically, the price of electricity rises when demand rises. In turn, the lower demand is, the cheaper electricity rates become. This pattern is due to the fact that increased demand requires increased energy production. When extra energy is demanded, utilities are forced to use alternative sources of energy production that may cost more to operate. For example, when electricity demand reaches a high point in Texas, coal plants are used alongside the typical natural gas plants. These coal plants are costlier and less effective than natural gas plants, but are necessary to meet high electricity demand levels.
Short-term prices are impacted the most by weather. Demand due to heating in the winter and cooling in the summer are the main drivers for seasonal price spikes. In 2017, the United States is scheduled to add 13 GW of natural-gas fired generation to its capacity. Additional natural-gas fired capacity is driving down the price of electricity, and increasing demand.
Electricity pricing (sometimes referred to as electricity tariff or the price of electricity) varies widely from country to country and may vary significantly from locality to locality within a particular country. Many factors go into determining an electricity tariff, such as the price of power generation, government subsidies, local weather patterns, transmission and distribution infrastructure, and industry regulation. “Electricity prices generally reflect the cost to build, finance, maintain, and operate power plants and the electricity grid.” Some utilities are for-profit, and their prices will also include a financial return for shareholders and owners. Electricity tariffs vary by type of customer, typically by residential, commercial, and industrial connections. Electricity price forecasting is the method by which a generator, utility company, or large industrial consumer can predict the wholesale prices of electricity with reasonable accuracy. The cost to supply electricity varies minute by minute.
Studies show that generally demand for electricity is driven largely by temperature. Heating demand in the winter and cooling demand (air conditioners) in the summer are what primarily drive the seasonal peaks in most regions. Heating degree days and cooling degree days help measure energy consumption by referencing the outdoor temperature above and below 65 degrees Fahrenheit, a commonly accepted baseline.
Fixed-rate, long-term (contract) plans provide stability in electricity rates. If market energy costs suddenly trend upward where you live, you can rest assured that you won’t have to pay more out of pocket. However, if you want to switch to a different, lower-cost plan before the end of the contract term, you’ll likely have to pay a cancellation or early termination fee.