After fretting the power provider options I started thinking about how I like credit unions over banks and started wondering about electric co-ops. It turns out there is one co-op retail electric provider for my area, Nueces Electric Cooperative Retail Division.
Read the site yourself, but as I understand it there is no contract, and I'm paying actual usage at the current price. The co-op buys power in bulk and distributes leftover funds at the end of the year. My interpretation is that I should always get current fair market electric prices. Of course if prices suddenly skyrocket I may be less happy about that, but I'm ready to accept the ups and downs.
NEC Retail's application process and online services aren't as slick and comprehensive as Green Mountain/White Fence's were. To apply I printed out a PDF, filled it out and faxed and/or scanned & emailed it back, and there was some brief email correspondence. I had to provide a voided check to start the bank drafting, and for security purposes they recommended fax instead of email for that. There are convenience fees for online one-time payments and phone payments, but I just have my payments drafted monthly for free.
However, everything has gone smoothly, and my electric bills have been pleasingly low so far. I moved from a newer apartment to a more-than-twice-as-big 40-year old house, and I kid you not my bills are lower. The house has storm windows most of the way around for extra insulation, and the heating/cooling unit is new, but it has skimpy attic insulation and two big energy-inefficient sliding-glass patio doors plus a big old kitchen window with no storm window on it. Also, the weather in the spring and fall has been energy-friendly, but the summer was brutally hot. I guess the point is I am really happy at both the energy consumption of my house and the low electric rates I have so far.
I want to again emphasize to readers that my electric rates are not guaranteed to stay the same for any length of time, and there is no "payment smoothing" plan, so I'm singing happy about my rates for now, but I have to have the budget and reserves ready in case, for example, next summer is as hot as this one and electric rates double or more. I expect to save money in the long term at the risk of always paying current market prices. If you have the budget flexibility and are happy with bank-drafting your electric bill, I say give NEC Retail a try.
As far as I found out, Atmos Energy was the only gas provider option, and although Atmos seems to have an electric division somewhere they weren't a retail provider for my area. Thus, there is no gas/electric bundling that I found.
I didn't start writing this article as a promotional tool, but while verifying links I see that I could get a $40 credit for referrals. Hey, if you read this, and it helped you decide to choose NEC Retail electric provider leave a comment and I'll email you my referral info. (Put your email address in the email field and I can see it, but it won't be public.)
This post is an update to Comparing Texas Power Prices Again.