Despite more than 100 retail energy providers (REPs) offering more than 2,000 electricity plans across Texas, more than two-thirds of Houston ratepayers – 67 percent – don’t fully understand their electric bills.
Those are the findings of a poll released on February 21 by the website PowertoConfuse.org, an interactive educational resource/promotional program from Griddy, yet another new energy provider launching in the Lone Star State this April.
According to the company, for 49 cents per day, customers can be connected “straight to the source, so you pay exactly what your energy provider pays for electricity … with no markups, no fees, and no contract
The survey, conducted by independent research firm Lab42, also found that about half of energy buyers in Houston say that lower energy costs are the primary improvement they’d like to see from their current energy companies; and 42 percent say they want improvements in the transparency, timeliness, and accuracy of rate and energy usage information.
Indeed, 40 percent of respondents said that they would change REPs today, if they weren’t locked into a contract.
The PowertoConfuse.org site is designed to help consumers navigate the mountain of confusing acronyms, fees, and other intricacies that are not easily understood in today’s electricity market, Griddy claims.
Inspired by the state-run PowertoChoose.com website, offered by the Public Utility Commission of Texas – which is dedicated to helping Texans understand the electricity plan options in their areas – the new portal offers research, infographics, articles, and expert commentary to help Texans make sense of the convoluted Texas electricity market.
According to Griddy, website features will help Texans to:
- Decode the confusing charges on energy bills—including 22 of the most common hidden fees, ranging from non-autopay charges to fees for contacting customer service.
- Decipher the most common plan types offered and avoid common pitfalls of each.
- Take advantage of opportunities to cut their bills through small changes, like running the dishwasher at night.
“Electricity bills are loaded with hidden fees and there’s far too much complexity for anyone to understand. It’s no surprise that picking a provider has been daunting for many consumers until now,” said Griddy CEO Gregory Craig.
“The system is broken,” Craig said, “and it’s no surprise that the industry faces a staggering 40 percent annual churn rate. Texans are tired of the status quo, and it’s time to do something about it,” added Craig. “We’re lifting the lid on how the energy industry works. The website is the first step to help all consumers understand just how convoluted the market is and why it’s time for a new way of doing business.”
“When the [Texas electricity] market first opened, pricing plans were fairly regular,” stated Carol Biedrzycki, executive director of non-profit organization Texas ROSE (Ratepayers’ Organization to Save Energy), in an interview with NBC News affiliate 5 DFW. “Over time, however, REPs started burying a myriad of indecipherable fees into their plans. It’s simply an impossible amount of information for the average person to comb through.”
Despite an abundance of competition, Texans pay the fifth-highest electricity bills in the nation.