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.
In states with energy choice, the open market is not only for residents. Businesses also can take advantage of pricing and plans available through an energy supplier. In some states, only business customers have energy choice. Across the United States, the average business consumes 6,278 kWh of electricity per month and receives a bill of nearly $655.
Ironically, technology can make the utilities’ problem worse, not better—at least in the short term. In the past, grids were developed because it was cheaper to generate large quantities of power and distribute it over wide distances, rather then generate smaller quantities closer to the place of use. It is for this reason that electricity is seen as a business that benefits from “economies of scale”.
Texas deregulated most of the state's electricity markets in 2002, a move aimed at lowering electricity costs by letting consumers choose their own electric power providers and their own plans. Some parts of Texas continued to be regulated, including those that get power from municipal utilities, electric cooperatives and investor-owned utilities that operate outside the state's primary power grid.
On the one hand, long-term, fixed-rate (contract) plans offer stability in pricing. If energy supply costs suddenly go up in your area, you won’t be left paying more than what you bargained for. You’ll have peace-of-mind. If you want to switch out of your contract before it ends with a lower cost plan, you’ll likely face a cancellation fee (early termination fee).
2. Fraud: Too many people have been victimized by glib sales reps with promises of cheap electricity flowing in an unending stream only to discover that, as is so often true, “it ain’t necessarily so”. They’ve been locked into unwanted term contracts or there’s a catch – some utilities will give you the great rate only if you meet a usage minimum; basically, the “rate” is, in actuality, a “bulk purchase” discounted fee – or they paid a deposit never to hear from the rep again.
Even though it’s not ideal for either party, both customers and electric service providers have to purchase electricity at current market rates. Strategically timing your switch to a new electricity provider can help you score the best electric rates in a market that’s out of your control. Another way to feel more in control when switching energy suppliers is to sign up for a fixed-rate plan.
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