'I'm a National Power customer: What should I do?'

Houston-based electric retailer National Power is probably regretting the letters it sent to customers last week saying it would no longer honor the fixed-price contracts it signed with customer and will jack up their rates to more than 15 cents per kwh. The Public Utility Commission is investigating and will meet with company officials today (apparently after trying unsucessfully all week to get a response from them).
More than 200 customers have filed complaints with the PUC, but what should you do if you’re a National Power Customer who got one of these “change of service” letters?

puc_logo Angry? Call the PUC.

“The best advice would be to call the PUC and talk to a customer protection representative who will advise you of your rights,” said PUC Chairman Barry Smitherman.
You can call the PUC at 1-888-782-8477 (TTY 1-800-735-2988) or e-mail them at customer@puc.state.tx.us . Here’s the PUC’s complaint page with more information.
Glenn Kruse, a Spring Branch resident who received a letter from National Power, said he is also following the company’s customer complaint guidelines. Item 7 of the company’s Terms of Service says customers “… may file a complaint with our company and request a supervisor to conduct a full review.” He sent a registered letter to the company and also planned to file a PUC complaint.
Should you change to another plan? The letter the company sent says customers can cancel their plan without having to pay the usual cancellation fee. And there are fixed-rate plans offered by other companies for less than what National is offering on the Power To Choose Web site, (Direct Energy has a 13.9 cent, 12-month plan when I checked my ZIP code this morning).
But on the other hand the PUC is pretty angry about the announcement because of the black-eye it is giving the entire electric market in the state. So it’s possible National’s letter to customers won’t be the final word. It might also be worth waiting a week or so to see if there’s any resolution that’s more favorable to customers. The 45-day window to change doesn’t close until later in June.
BTW, if you feel like you’ve been tricked by National imagine how one of the authors of Texas’ electric dereg laws, former Rep. Steve Wolens, feels. Turns out he’s in the same boat.