TXU Energy vs. Stream Energy
Both TXU and Stream Energy are major players in the Texas electricity retail market. Both are Texas natives, both with large customer bases and as serious investments in brand recognition. But which is actually the better company for your energy dollar? We sort through the plans, prices and fine print to help you compare and select the one that is best for you!
Who is TXU Energy?
TXU traces its pedigree all the way back to 1882 and the Dallas Electric Lighting Company. A century later, it reformed itself into TXU Corporation, with the monopoly as an electric utility in north Texas. In 2007, TXU Corp. became Energy Future Holdings Corporation (EFH) following the largest ever private-equity acquisition. Its energy operations included ONCOR (transmission), Luminant (generation) and TXU Energy (retail electricity provider). While the parent company has struggled, TXU Energy has grown to be one the giants of Texas electricity providers. They have a huge customer base, big marketing operations, and lots of brand recognition. For perks, some of their plans offer a cash back loyalty reward on annual electricity purchases. They also have bill credits and a refer-a-friend program.
Who is Stream Energy?
Dallas-based Stream was founded in 2005 by Rob Snyder and Pierre Koshakji. It now sells electric and gas services in seven states and Washington, D.C. and offers several other services, as well. Stream Energy prides itself on selling energy by word of mouth. Widely regarded as a controversial multi-level marketing (MLM) enterprise, Stream recruits its customers to join its sales force, requiring a $329 one time fee. Stream Energy recently settled a Texas class action lawsuit to compensate sales agents who signed on between 2005 and 2011. Though Stream Energy is widely praised by some of its customers for its competitive rates and flexible plans, it is also well known for adding fees and undisclosed charges. While 34% of customer reviews intermittently rated Stream at 4 or 5 stars from 2009 to the present, 50% of all 327 reviews consistently gave Stream only 1 star for the same time period.
TXU vs. Stream - Our Ratings:
TXU vs. Stream - Plan Comparison:
TXU Energy has 6 electricity rates available.
- Their lowest energy charge is 9.5¢, their highest is 18.2¢.
- However, when usage is 1,201 kWh to 2,000, the lowest price drops on 2 plans to just 5.5¢.
Plan types also include:
Free Nights & Solar Days: Eco-customers get renewable solar energy but at a cost that is offset by free power at night.
- TXU Energy purchases solar power and solar renewable energy credits from solar farms equivalent to your usage during Solar Days from 6:00 a.m. to 8:59 p.m.
- Free electricity from wind power energy credits each night from From 9:00 p.m. through 5:59 a.m. each day.
Some plans offer $30 credit/billing cycle when usage is 1,200 kWh or more. Another when plan offers $30 bill credit when usage is 800 kWh.
All 6 TXU plans feature a $9.95 base charge and no minimum usage fee.
Early Termination Fee (ETF) Range: $150 to $295.
Stream Energy offers 8 electricity rates.
Their lowest rate is 7.9¢, their highest is 16.9¢
Plan types also include:
100% Renewable Energy: based on the retirement of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).
“Optional Eco”: offset your energy usage with renewable energy for an additional fee of $4.95 per month.
Blocks of power for a flat amount: Blocks are in 500 kWh amounts (500, 1000, 1500, etc) As long as usage stays within your preselected block you don't pay an additional amount.
Free nights: energy usage between 8:00 PM and 4:59 AM daily is free.
Free weekends: energy usage between 6:00 PM Friday to 11:59 PM Sunday is free.
Base charges/minimum usage fees occur on 6 of Stream's 8 plans. On those plans that have base charges, the amount $9.95. In other plans, the minimum usage fee if monthly usage is below 999 kWh costs $10.95.
Early Termination Fee (ETF) Range: $250 - $300
Price and Plan Comparison
While at first glance TXU does have higher energy charges than Stream, it offers most Texas homeowners a near 50% discount when their usage rises above 1200 kWh. On other plans, it offers bill credits when usage climbs above either 800 kWh or 1200 kWh. Stream, on the other hand, finds it easier to penalize customers when their usage falls below 999 kWh.
While TXU does have a base charge for all their plans, Stream's minimum usage fee will effectively be the same thing for a number of customers. Stream also finds ways of adding on fees for using renewable energy while TXU finds ways to bundle renewable energy plans to keep prices to customers low.
Both companies charge early termination fees (ETFs) and if you want to leave one of these plans midway through the contract, you'll need to see how much that will cost you. TXU has a lower range of $150 to $295, the higher fee reserved for long term plans (24 months and more). Stream Energy, meanwhile, charges a hire range of $250 to $300 for roughly the same term length plans.
TXU plans initially appear to be higher priced than Stream Energy but TXU prices are offset by discounts for higher usage as well as plans that include bill credits based on other usage amounts. Add to this a better-conceived renewable energy plan that lets eco-conscious customers take advantage of low-priced wind power to offset higher-priced solar and keep rates lower, and it's clear that TXU's higher rating comes from providing a more innovative and affordable product.
Stream Energy plans maybe priced somewhat lower but their minimum usage fees and additional fees for renewable energy are designed to act more as stick than carrot. These fees actually raise the monthly charges to equal or exceed TXU's pricing. Finally, Stream's ETF is designed to shackle customers to their contracts so that once a customer has signed on it is too painful to leave for a better provider.
Recommendation: TXU Energy