Customer complaints in the Texas electricity market have declined for the fourth straight year, as reported by multiple news outlets including the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. Complaints are once again the lowest since deregulation began in 2002. Naturally, Recharge Texas (TCAP) once again continued to further their agenda by pointing out there were less complaints during the regulated days of Texas electricity. I’ve discussed this lazy, Continue reading “Texas Electricity Complaints Continue to Decline” »
The debate over capacity markets and whether or not they will become a model for Texas electricity continues to rage. I’ve already given you my thoughts on a Capacity market in my primer on the subject. But more information from all sides continues to blast out from all interested parties. First was the release of an NRG study that admitted that a capacity market would cost Texans an additional 4.7 billion dollars per year. Of course, NRG who would love a capacity market, indicated much of that money would be recouped. Fortunately, Paul Ring of Energy Choice Matters quickly debunked that notion in his article last week.
Of course, the biggest claim of the power generators is that they simply aren’t making enough money to warrant investment as long as natural gas prices continue to remain low. And this is despite raising the market cap last year (with more raises in the pipeline) precisely to encourage investment in new generation plants.
Of course, despite claiming not enough profits, large generation companies sure seem eager to PLAN new plants, according to this article in Rueters
Power companies in fast-growing Texas are drawing plans for 20 new generation plants, even though most projects cannot be financed because of a standoff between state regulators over how to reform the state’s $29 billion electricity market.
Of course, to me, “cannot be financed” reads more like “waiting to see if they can squeeze more money out of taxpayers.” But I might be cynical. What I really did enjoy was later in the article, this little snippet:
Panda Power Funds of Dallas, considered a maverick among developers, overcame significant financing hurdles this year to begin construction of two natural gas-fired plants totaling 2,200 MW.
In the world on power generation, Panda Power is a small guy. And yet this little guy managed to find financing to build two new plants in Texas despite the current “stalemate.” One would think mega companies such as NRG or Just Energy wouldn’t have any difficulty securing financing for new plants. In fact, they wouldn’t. They just want more profits. It’s funny how Panda is “considered a maverick” when the only thing they’re doing is creating supply where there is need for demand.
Anyway, the debate over a capacity market will continue to rage. Hopefully Rick Perry’s newest appointment to the PUC, former Chief of Staff Brandy Marty, will bring common sense to the discussion and eventually get capacity markets tossed out. Fingers crossed.
This morning Direct Energy has announced their purchase of Texas retail electricity provider Bounce Energy. Bounce Energy, who has consistently been at the top of the Texas Electricity Ratings rankings (currently #1), has easily been the most innovative electricity provider in the country in terms of their online technology/capabilities and their success in reaching out to potential and existing customers through social media outlets.
Additionally, just recently, Bounce made groundbreaking contributions to the electricity space with the launch of their new MyAccount functionality, as well as their Build Your Own Plan functionality. The Build Your Own Plan is the only one of it’s kind in the electricity space, and allows customers to select their own plan term length, the amount of renewable energy in the plan, whether they want automated and paperless billing, and more.
In contrast, Direct Energy has long been lacking in the realm of online functionality, digital customer outreach, and a customer friendly web-portal. So on the surface, this seems like a very smart purchase by Direct Energy, but only if it’s viewed as a strategic purchase of specialists and experienced personnel to bolster some trouble areas of their business. If it is just viewed as a purchase of a customer book, then I’d purport that Direct Energy is wasting a great opportunity.
Fortunately, from some of the quotes in the press release, it looks like Direct Energy is very much viewing this as a strategic purchase:
“We are always looking for new ways to enhance our customers’ experience and satisfaction,” said Steven Murray, President of Direct Energy Residential. “Bounce Energy’s digital marketing insights and e-commerce platform will bolster our capabilities as we expand our product offerings to current and potential customers.”
“Direct Energy is the ideal organization with which to expand our e-commerce platform and digital marketing capabilities,” said Robbie Wright, CEO of Bounce Energy.
If that is the case, and by all appearances it seems to be a strategic purchase, this is great news for both Direct Energy and Texas electricity customers alike. Bounce’s technology and marketing savvy along with Direct Energy’s resources (which allow them to go toe to toe with incumbents like TXU and Reliant), could create the kind of Texas electricity company that will push innovation in new ways that will only benefit Texans, as well as customers in all other states Direct Energy sells electricity.
All in all, it’s a very interesting day for Texas electricity customers. The #7 company on Texas Electricity Ratings is purchasing the current #1 company, but there’s a lot of hope that the union will mean great things for customers. Congratulations to both Direct Energy and Bounce Energy!
In a turn of events that stuns absolutely no one, the energy generators in the state of Texas are once again attempting to leverage more money from the customers and retail electricity providers to line their pockets. And naturally, they are using the alleged, worst case scenario of an “energy shortage” in Texas and the fears surrounding it as their vehicle to increased profits. From the DMN article: Continue reading “Power Generators Continue Campaign to Squeeze Texas Electricity Customers Dry” »
I revieve reader questions on a regular basis about how the PUC handles their ranking system. The general thrust is “I see there is a state rankings system for Texas electricity, but it looks dated.” Or “I don’t see the electricity provider that I’m interested in listed on the PUC’s page. What gives?” I wrote an article in early November about some serious flaws and confusing inconsistencies in how the PUC updates and lists the Texas retail electricity providers (REPs) in their complaint scorecard in attempt to address some of these FAQs. I then posted an update in early January pointing out that yet again the PUC had fallen behind and failed to update their complaint scorecard. I’m not sure what the problem is, but Continue reading “PUC Continues to Drop Ball on Consumer Advocacy?” »
We’re well into the new year, and it is time for a new update of our rankings here at Texas Electricity Ratings. We’ve had rate changes now that companies are preparing to move back into summer rates, and there’s also been another round of customer reviews that I’ve entered into my system. So with that in mind, here’s our latest round of rankings:
Bounce Energy 4.04
Champion Energy Services 3.91
StarTex Power 3.81
TriEagle Energy 3.69
Gexa Energy 3.58
Direct Energy 3.17
Amigo Energy 3.09
Tara Energy 3.02
Green Mountain Energy 2.79
TXU Energy 2.53
Texas Power 2.46
Reliant Energy 2.13
Congratulations to Bounce Energy, who is back in the top spot! Bounce is followed by Champion Energy, who slipped a little but during this rankings system. StarTex Power has slipped back into the 3rd spot, even after their purchase by Constellation Energy. That speaks well to how they’ve been transitioned into Constellation.
During my rankings update, I’ve also noticed some more things about the Power To Choose website rankings, but that will be another post I’ll put up later today or tomorrow.
There were a couple of news items that hit the Texas electricity market this week. Neither of them on their own require enough analysis to warrant an entire blog post, so I’m going to stick them together in this one blog post. First up, Continue reading “Texas Electricity News & Notes 1/10/2013” »
Late last week it was announced that Champion Energy won the 2012 JD Power & Associates survey for customer satisfaction. This marks the third consecutive ear that Champion Energy has won the award, which is an outstanding achievement and really demonstrates their commitment to customer service and satisfaction. Champion Energy is the first electricity provider to win the award for three consecutive years.
Champion Energy got perfect scores on 3 of the 4 grading criteria that JD Power measured, which are Billing & Payment, Price, Communications, and Customer Service. Their total score was 756 out of a possible 800, improving on their 2011 score of 745. The Texas electricity industry average score was 678, which Champion exceeded by 78 points. Again, congratulations to Champion Energy.
Also performing well was relative market newcomer, Bounce Energy, which was founded in 2008. Bounce Energy was the only other Texas electricity provider to score the top 5 point ranking with a total score was 745. Bounce’s performance is particularly impressive when you consider that they are the youngest company on the survey to be included. Additionally, this was just their second year to be included in the survey at all, finishing last year with 681 points. So Bounce Energy also deserves a well-deserved congratulations for moving into a very strong 2nd place finish in just their second year in the JD Power survey.
StarTex Power had another great showing, finishing third with a total of 729 points. Also of interest to me was that both market incumbents and big name providers Reliant Energy and TXU Energy finished with marks below the industry average with scores 669 and 663, respectively.
The survey results weren’t the only things I found interesting in the press release, which also spoke about the general satisfaction with Texas electricity customers when compared to consumer satisfaction in regulated markets without choice. I’ll take a closer look at that this afternoon in a separate article. Full results below.
I lived in an apartment for years that had a smart meter, and despite the fact that I write about them regularly on this website, I never really paid much attention to them myself. However, I recently moved into a home with a lot more electricity usage. On top of that, I saw this quote in an article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram last week, which I found really fascinating:
I’ve written before about the potential crisis in Texas due to the lack of new generation plants. Basically, not many new energy generation plants are being built, or even planned, at a time when Texas’s population continues to explode and our electricity needs along with it. The problem is that because of the deregulated electricity system, all new plants must be built by private investors instead of by taxing customers or raising electric rates. And right now the low cost of natural gas and the lack of guaranteed profits have investors leery of risking the construction of new plants in Texas.
A commonly referenced solution Continue reading “ERCOT Price Market Cap Changes Appear Politically Motivated” »