Texas Power Meltdown: What should you do?

So you’re a Riverway Power customer — or with one of several other troubled companies — and you’ve just been POLRized (your electric company went out of business and you’ve been moved to the “provider of last resort.”). What should you do?
• According to the Public Utility Commission and others in the industry, start shopping for a new provider now. The POLR rate will be very expensive (up to 30 cents per kwh in some parts of the state, between 17 and 22 cents around Houston). Every day you spend on a POLR plan is more money out of your pocket. Don’t sit and wonder “who will my POLR provider be” or “what will the rate be?” It’s going to be very costly no matter what.
• When you find a company you want to switch to tell them you are calling in order to get off a POLR rate, since some companies have expedited processes to get you switched more quickly. What you’re looking for is an “off cycle meter read” — meaning you don’t have to wait for your regularly scheduled monthly meter read before getting moved. If you don’t make this request it could be a month or more before you’re transferred.
• You may also need to tell the new company you’re willing to “waive the notification process,” which is essentially where they send you a notice in the mail to make sure you want to be switched.
• The electric retailers (i.e. Reliant, TXU, Direct, StarTex etc.) are charged a fee for this expedited meter read ($6 in the Houston area) but it’s up to them to pass that fee along to you. Some have been waiving the fee.
Should you pay your latest bill from your old provider? This is what the Public Utility Commission told us with regard to National Power: “Your priority should be to get your arrangements with a new provider. If have a bill with National Power, just hang on to that until this thing gets resolved. We’re still working with them to reach some kind of conclusion,” said spokesman Terry Hadley.
What if you have a deposit with your old provider or prepaid for power? The PUC has lawyers representing the public in these matters, Hadley said. “At a minimum we will monitor this case and represent customers’ interests,” he said. In other words, they are trying to make sure the companies return all the deposits and other funds that are owed to consumers.
A few resources:
The PUC’s official power plan shopping site.
How to file a complaint with the PUC: Joins many other angry Texans.
Power Score Card: A rating system for the eco-friendliness of power plans.
How to Apply for Lite-Up Texas : A program for low income electric customers.
Texas Rose: “A non-profit membership organization dedicated to affordable electricity and a healthy environment. ”
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