Saturday, 11 June 2016

Your Rights as a Customer and the Power to Choose

            Do you know your rights as a customer for your power to choose an electricity plan? Consumers of electricity have special rights regarding their ability to receive and use electricity and it will help protect them from fraudulent transactions and scams. The Your Rights as a Customer (YRAC) document was created by the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) to address what can and cannot be in the terms and conditions provided by a retail energy provider (REP). The entire document can be found under Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 25, Subchapter R, Subsection 25.475.

            No Grey Areas
            Everything contained within the electricity facts label (EFL), terms and conditions, marketing material, communications, and YRAC must be clearly stated and defined. There cannot be any information which could be misconstrued, fraudulent, or unfair on behalf of the customer. A startup REP cannot claim that they provided service prior to a time when they became a certified REP. REPs also cannot claim that their electricity service will outperform service from any other company. The Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) ensures that all energy transmissions are treated equally, fairly, and reliably.

            Consumer History Cannot Impact Price
            Retail energy providers are not allowed to adjust the rates of your electricity based on your credit or payment history. Regardless of what kind of plan you have, including prepaid, fixed, and variable plans, your rate cannot be changed unless the terms of the plan allow for it based on market conditions. Your payment arrangements cannot affect it, but with prepaid and variable plans, the rate can change based on market conditions. Fixed rate plans won’t change at all, unless there is a change in delivery charges or new regulations cause an increase in prices.

            Written Notice and Information Rules
            Written notice of contract expiration must be presented to the consumer within 30 to 60 days of the expiration for residential customers and within 14 to 60 days for commercial customers. Changes to the terms and conditions of a current plan must be brought to the consumer’s attention at least 14 days before the change occurs.

            In order to search for electricity plans, customers are not required to provide anything more than a zip code. The EFL of every plan will give precise details on how plans operate, and will explain the finer details about the energy rate, how it’s derived, and what can possible change, if at all. You, the consumer, have the power to choose your energy plan, and all the information to make an informed decision is available for every consumer. No REP can legally swindle you into a plan, so knowing your rights as a consumer will ensure you are protected.

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