Earlier this week, I got an email from a Texas Electricity Ratings reader, suggesting I write an article about Minimum Usage charges. We’ve discussed Minimum Usage charges in the past here, but to clear things up, in short, they’re additional charges that are tacked onto a person’s bill if they use less than a certain amount of electricity per month.
The tricky part is that the charges and the thresholds for the charges are different for every REP (Retail Electricity Provider). Which is what the reader asked me about. I thought it was a great idea, and I should have thought of it myself a long time ago. So I ran through most of the major providers operating in Texas and researched to put together a list of the minimal usage charges for each provider, as best as I could find. So below is a guide to the minimal usage charges for Texas electricity.
Ambit Energy: $9.99 for less than 1000 kWh per month
Amigo Energy: Depending on the plan it is $9.95 of $6.95 for less than 1000 kWh per month
Bounce Energy: $4.95 for less than 1000 kWh per month for almost all of their plans, except intro plans are $6.96 per month for less than 1000 kWh.
Champion Energy: $4.95 for less than 500 kWh per month
Cirro Energy: $5.25 for less than 1000 kWh per month
Direct Energy: I couldn’t find a Monthly Fee in their Terms of Service or EFLs
Dynowatt: $6.95 for less than 1000 kWh per month
First Choice Power: $5 for less than 650 kWh per month, plus a $4.95 base charge
GEXA Energy: Seems to simply use a sliding rate per plan for different usage w/o a minimum charge
Green Mountain Energy: Didn’t seem to see any minimum usage charge in the EFL or Terms of Service
Mega Energy: $12.96 for less than 1000 kWh per month
MX Energy: Seems to simply use a sliding rate per plan for different usage w/o minimum charge
Reliant Energy: $9.95 for less than 800 kWh per month
Southwest Power & Light: I didn’t see minimum usage but they had a $7.95 monthly meter fee.
Spark Energy: $8.99 for less than 1000 kWh per month
StarTex Power: $4.99 for less than 500 kWh per month
Tara Energy: $6.95 for less than 500 kWh per month
Texas Power: $10.00 for less than 1000 kWh per month
TXU Energy: TXU uses a base $4.95 charge and sliding rates for less or greater than 1000 kWh, per plan.
Also, I’d like to point out a few other things about the list above. First off, just because I didn’t find a charge doesn’t mean there isn’t one…I just could have missed it looking through the documents. Additionally, all the EFLs I looked at were from plans in the Centerpoint service area. I looked at at least 2-3 plans for each provider to get an idea of consistent charges listed…I did NOT pour through every EFL from every single provider. This is simply to give people and idea of what to expect, and hopefully be helpful. Also, it’s important to note that for the guys that don’t have any minimal usage charge, chances are high they simply tacked it onto their sliding rate scale. But if you find a great price on a guy with no listed charges, then absolutely go for it.
One last note, Stream Energy’s EFL was…weird. Despite advertising their tiered pricing for rates on a 500, 1000, and 2000 kWh scale like everyone else in the market, the fine print of the EFL says their actual tiers are:
The Price is a tiered
pricing structure, based on the following tiers: i) up to 699 kWh depicted in the EFL as Average Monthly Usage of 500 kWh, ii) 700 to 1,499 kWh depicted in the EFL as Average Monthly Usage of 1,000 kWh, and iii) 1,500 to 2,499 kWh depicted in the EFL as Average Monthly Usage of 2,000 kW
So just keep in mind that you have to use a bit more electricity to get to their cheaper electricity rates.