Here’s an article that hit the Dallas Morning News recently, talking about the problems that exist currently with Pre-Paid Electricity providers and their customers. Currently the PUC is criticizing the potential issues that can occur with Pre-Paid customers in the Texas Electricity and PUC laws that currently don’t take into account the differences between regular utilities and pre-paid utilities.
Basically, the article points out that it’s really impossible to have a truly effective and efficient pre-paid electricity market without the customers having Smart Meter technology that can measure in real-time the amount of electricity a customer is using. Currently, Smart Meter technology is only available for a small percentage of customers and it will be years until it’s truly and completely installed all throughout the areas of deregulated electricity. Furthermore, the article specifically points out how the issues can basically create “Second Class” citizens/customers in the electricity market. Essentially the current holes in which some of the pre-paid companies operate means that customers don’t always have the same rights as customers of traditional utilities, in part because the customers have to pay estimated usage in advance and there’s no real way to track their usage effectively, as well as the fact that pre-paid rates are often much higher than rates from traditional companies.
So be careful if you are with a pre-paid company, or are considering them as a provider. The PUC is working quickly to modify their rules to apply closer to the way Pre-Paid electricity companies operate.