Something I have noticed over the years in regards to the deregulated Texas electricity market is that most people seem to have a hesitancy about switching providers. Now, there are lots of reasons this might be the case. Some of it might be loyalty to incumbent providers like Reliant and TXU who they’ve known for decades. Other people just might not understand exactly how the market works, or they don’t want to deal with the hassle of regularly checking the market pricing to see if their current deals are competitive. Heck, some people might not even know the market is deregulated. Whatever the reason, lots of people in Texas do not shop for electricity with the same diligence and research that are standard when buying a piece of electronics, pricing cable or cell phone plans, or even the way they casually check pump prices at gas stations.
I was checking out the JD Power Website and came across a press release some interesting numbers in regards to deregulated natural gas in Georgia. Like the Texas electricity market, natural gas in Georgia is deregulated and customers can shop between a number of providers and seelct the one that suits them best. The survey into the satisfaction of natural gas studies shows that 15% of the 1.5 million Georgians in deregulated areas have switched their providers in the past year. Additionally, 15% of the people surveyed indicated that they planned on switching providers within the next 12 months.
It’s not unreasonable to assume that many of the people who have switched within the year and are planning to switching within the next 12 months are active within the deregulated gas market in Georgia. So lets assume that conservatively that 20% of the Georgia market is playing the deregulated gas field for the best prices and best service. I’m not certain what the numbers are for the percentage of Texans in the deregulated market, but if we estimate the number of potential deregulated customers at 18 million, I’m not sure that 20% of the Texas market are regularly shopping for electricity in Texas. If that’s the case, why not? In Georgia, only 1 in 5 people seem to be shopping regularly for gas, and you would think the question there would be why aren’t more people actively working the market to their advantage? And if my assumptions are true, not even 1 in 5 Texans are leveraging the market to their advantage. In an environment where we will all pass up gas stations for a cent lower, cut coupons to go to the grocery store, or wait in lines starting at 3 am to stampede stores for Black Friday sales, I find it baffling that most people won’t even bother exploring the Texas electricity market to make sure they’re getting the best deals.