Cost of Power Dropping

October 12, 2007

Fort Worth Star Telegram

Dave Lieber

If you haven’t checked electricity rates recently, now is the time. The cost of power has finally turned downward in favor of consumers, and rates are the lowest they’ve been in a long time.

Reader Dale Cathey of Benbrook says he was locked into a two-year contract with TXU Electric paying 14.17 cents per kilowatt-hour. He recently called TXU and asked whether he could switch to a month-to-month variable plan advertised at 11.3 cents per kwh. At first, he says, TXU told him he couldn’t switch without paying a termination fee.

But Cathey, in the best tradition of a watchdog, called again, got someone else and was allowed to switch to the lower rate.

TXU spokeswoman Sophia Stoller says that TXU tries to do whatever it can to make its customers happy.

“Customers always have the ability to change service plans,” she told The Watchdog. “That remains our policy. Depending on each customer’s individual service agreement, relevant cancellation or change fees may apply. Because we serve specific customer needs based on their individual cases, we encourage customers to contact our customer service centers to review all service and product options available to them.”

In other words, call and ask. And if you don’t like the answer, keep negotiating. Ask to speak to a supervisor. Threaten to switch companies if you can’t get a better deal.

Dare to compare

If you are considering switching companies, rather than switching plans within the same company, here’s another way to go.

A few weeks ago, I visited to do a rate comparison. Previously, I had signed a one-year contract with Company A for 12.3 cents per kwh. But the Web site showed me that Company B is offering a one-year contract for 10.7 cents. I figured that the $150 termination fee was worth paying because, in the end, I’ll still save money. I switched.

By the way, this is the fifth electric company I’ve used in the past several years. Obviously, I’m not shy about switching. Juice is juice, but money is money.

P.S. When you switch, don’t tell your current provider because you run the risk of losing power. Simply sign up with the new company and let it arrange the hookup so you don’t lose a moment of service.