De-regulation in power markets is a fancy word for “choice”. In most US energy markets – whether referring to electricity or natural gas – it has been standard practice that only one supplier is available to supply utility service to local areas. As a customer, whether you liked it or not, you were “stuck” with that monopoly provider. Deregulation of a market removes the barriers to competition for service providers and allows more than one licensed provider to operate in approved areas. Approval is typically by legislation that is overseen by a Public Utility Commission. The goal of deregulation is to provide better services, more quickly, and ideally at competitive prices as natural market forces go to work. Innovative companies learn to improve market share through better performance while lesser performers are forced to improve performance or perish.
Each US State has its own rules concerning deregulation. Here are maps showing which States are deregulated for electricity and natural gas. For more detailed information about your market, we recommend you visit the Utility Commission website for your state or search “Deregulation” and your states name in a web browser.
The kilowatt hour, or kilowatt-hour, (symbol kW•h, kW h or kWh) is a unit of energy equal to 1000 watt hours. The kilowatt hour is most commonly known as a billing unit for energy delivered to consumers by electric utilities.
A heater rated at 1000 watts (1 kilowatt), operating for one hour uses one kilowatt hour (equivalent to 3.6 megajoules) of energy. A 100-watt light bulb consumes 0.1 kilowatt hours of energy per hour. IN the US, Electrical energy is sold in kilowatt hours. In most deregulated markets, the price a consumer pays “per kWh” is the most common point of negotiation and is often referred to as “Energy Charge” or “Usage”.
Natural Gas is usually measured by volume in the United States and is stated in cubic feet. A cubic foot of gas is the amount of gas needed to fill a volume of one cubic foot under set conditions of pressure and temperature. To measure larger amounts of natural gas, a “therm” is used to denote 100 cubic feet, and “mcf” is used to denote 1,000 cubic feet. To provide greater accuracy in comparing fuels, energy content is measured in terms of “British Thermal Units (BTU’s).” A BTU is the amount of heat required to raise one pound of water (approximately a pint), one degree Fahrenheit at or close to its point of maximum density.
Since (Natural Gas) meters measure volume and not energy content, a therm factor is used by (Natural) gas companies to convert the volume of gas used to its heat equivalent, and thus calculate the actual energy use. The therm factor is usually in the units therms/CCF. It will vary with the mix of hydrocarbons in the natural gas. Natural gas with a higher than average concentration of ethane, propane or butane will have a higher therm factor. Impurities, such as carbon dioxide or nitrogen, lower the therm factor.
The volume of the gas is calculated as if measured at standard temperature and pressure (STP). The heat content of natural gas is solely dependent on the composition of the gas, and is independent of temperature and pressure.
One therm is equal to about 105.5 megajoules, 25,200 kilocalories or 29.3 kilowatt-hours.
A Retail Electric Provider (REP) sells electric energy to retail customers in the areas where the sale of electricity is open to retail competition. A REP buys wholesale electricity, delivery service, and related services, prices electricity for customers, and seeks customers to buy electricity at retail.
A REP has many responsibilities including:
- Buying electricity at wholesale.
- Buying delivery service and paying the charges for transmission and distribution service to the Transmission and Distribution Utilities TDU.
- Serving as the direct contact with the customer for electric service issues.
- Billing the customer and collecting for the REP’s charges.
- Providing a 24-hour toll free telephone number for customer calls.
- Developing electronic interface system to communicate with the Independent System Operator and other Market Participants relating to customer switches and meter information.
- Understanding and following Utility Commission rules, including customer protection rules. PUC Substantive Rules, Subchapter R
The Transmission and Distribution Service Providers or Wires Companies transmit and deliver the electricity or natural gas to your home or business along the poles and wires or pipelines. The company is responsible for maintenance and repair of these poles and wires and regulated by the Public Utility Commission.
The TDSP’s are responsible for carrying the electricity to a transformer via cables where it is converted from low voltage to high voltage for more efficient transmission over long distances. High voltage transmission lines carry the electricity over long distances to substations at or near the point of use. Substations convert the electricity from high voltage to lower voltage electricity which is then moved through distribution lines to consumers by the Transmission and Distribution Providers.
A TDU charge is the fee collected on behalf of a TDSP to pay for the delivery of electricity or gas to your location. The charge is added to a customer’s bill to cover the cost of transmitting energy over the transmission grid between the generating facility and the local utility’s distribution facilities. Prior to deregulation of the energy industry, electricity was provided as a single bundled service, and energy billings covered all costs incurred in production and delivery. In deregulated markets, separate companies can offer specific services involved in this process, and one of those services is transmission. Transmission charges may be rolled into other charges even in a deregulated market, but are usually billed separately and will appear as line item charge on a customer’s invoice, and will be paid as part of the total utility bill.
Just like other industries who have high, mid-tier, and lower levels providers (think Hotels or Restaurants or Banks), so too does the utility market have levels of service provider that suit the style and needs of their customers. Some providers are loosely run and focus only on profit, others take pride in customer service, while others strive to only service a particular type of customer as a priority. At National1 Energy, we match each customer with the right provider for their business. We match what’s important to you with the priorities of you supplier. We also only partner with established, financially secure providers to make sure every customer experience is as safe, reliable and worry-free as possible..
Your monthly invoice will have an emergency number listed. In all cases, you should be contacting the Transmission and Distribution Service Provider for your area. See below for numbers in your state:
In case of emergency or outage, please contact your Local Wires Company directly. The Local Wires Companies listed below are responsible for maintaining the poles and wires, and for responding to emergencies and power outages.TIP: Keep the contact number of your local wires company close to your phone, so you can find it easily should you experience a power disruption.
Local Wires Companies:
- Oncor (TXU service area)
(Oncor can link to five different phone numbers with your ESID to speed restoration when you call to report outages. Call 888-313-6862 to set it up.)
- CenterPoint (Reliant service area)
- AEP Central (CPL service area)
- TNMP (First Choice service area)
- AEP North (WTU service area)