Houston is tops … for utility bills

The monthly July data from WhiteFence isn’t so good for Houstonians. We have the highest overall utility bills ($367.17) out of the 20 cities where the utility shopping site does its survey, thanks largely to the largest electric bills ($215.68)

whitefence_july_2009x Texas cities had the highest overall utility bills in July, thanks largely to higher power prices. A combination of phone, internet, television, electricity and natural gas service rates as gathered by WhiteFence.

If you flip through the options on the site you’ll find Houston is average to high-average compared to other cities for the other services the company tracks, namely phone service, high speed internet, television and natural gas service.
Granted, the WhiteFenceIndex represents a limited sample of customers, namely those buying new service. And as the southernmost city in the survey, it makes sense power usage in the summer for air conditioning here would push bills higher.
A quick look at current power plan prices on the Power To Choose Web site for Houston shows a range of 9.8 cents per kwh for a month-to-month plan (Kinetic Energy) to a 15 cent, 24-month plan (First Choice Power). The cheapest 12-month plan seems to be 10.5 cents (Southwest Power & Light). As with all these plans, be sure to read all the terms and conditions carefully as well as your current provider’s rules for changing plans.
Note: Some readers point out a better comparison would be per kwh rates between the cities and that the Department of Energy compiles such data. It does indeed and we’ve done full stories using that data in the past, but even those numbers have their limitations, namely:

• That data lags by many months. The most recent report is for May retail electric prices.

• Not every part of every state in the DOE survey has competitive retail electric markets, so it’s hardly an apples-to-apples comparison. Same goes for Texas.

The monthly WhiteFence data is just one of many interesting pieces of the pie.