This is the first time I've started up power service since the deregulation. It was pretty confusing at first, but my first fear was quickly allayed: the company that maintains the local power lines and feeds to the homes is always the same no matter who you buy power from, and they can't discriminate their service based on your power company.
There were many companies available in my area, many of whom had multiple service plans. When comparing plans I started noticing several sound cheap at first but charge you a penalty if you use under 1000 kWh in a month. Others have tiered plans that break between 600 and 700 kWh. Some have straightforward plans but appear to have higher rates.
At first I scoffed a bit at my brother's suggestion of Green Mountain--they use only renewable energy sources--but after I figure I'm likely going to use 700-1000 kWh per month their plans are only slightly higher than the others and seem to have no gotchas (except the $150 cancellation fee on their 12-month commitment plan, but it has lower rates than their monthly plan). StarTex seemed to also be reasonable, but for the small price difference I figure going zero pollution is worth it.
Of course the power in the lines to my apartment is mixed from all sources, but buying renewable sources encourages development of more renewable sources...theoretically...and ultimately cuts down on pollution.
Other companies have zero pollution plans but seem to have various gotchas.
At least two of the companies were multi-level-marketing based. Um, no. I don't even want to start to find out how that works.
TXU was startlingly high for their no-commitment plan. F 'em. I guess they've been hamstrung until recently (Jan 1) by deregulation transition rules, but I understand they aren't limited on how low they can make their prices now if they wanted.
Ultimately I think deregulation promotes competition and developments of new plants (see: California rolling blackouts and see: not happening in TX), and although the rates are high now I think things will simmer down relative to the rest of the country as the market forces kick in. But at first it's quite daunting just to pick a doggone power company.
This is a December 15, 2011 republication of a May 8, 2007 post I made on LiveJournal.