Texas power company offers customers flat-fee electricity plan

HOUSTON (AP) — Electric retailer Reliant says it’s launched an unprecedented program in Texas that allows customers to purchase their power at a flat monthly fee.

The Houston-based company says the plan makes budgeting easier for residential customers. It’s based on a computer model that considers a customer’s prior consumption to predict how much electricity that customer will use in the future.

Customers pay the flat fee irrespective of how much power they consume. But if electricity use rises, then Reliant considers that increase when establishing the fee for another 12-month period.

“For customers who really don’t have a lot of time or energy or interest in their electricity bill, this plan gives them a way to know what’s going to happen,” said Elizabeth Killinger, senior vice president and retail regional president for Texas at NRG, Reliant’s parent company.

Reliant introduced the program for limited use in 2012, but the company declines to say how many have enrolled.

Critics tell the Houston Chronicle the plan encourages unrestrained power use at a time when energy conservation is needed.

“We should be conserving energy, and definitely, when people see the difference in an electricity bill, a water bill or a trash bill, it makes them more conscious of how they’re using a resource,” said Robin Schneider, executive director of Texas Campaign for the Environment. “It seems to be a real step backwards. I’m very disappointed that Reliant is offering this.”

Reliant executives counter that the program isn’t meant to encourage unrestrained energy use and, instead, they emphasize the benefits of offering a consistent bill.

The plan likely will benefit the consumer in some months and Reliant in others, according to David Power, deputy director of the advocacy group Public Citizen. But Reliant likely expects that in the end it will come out ahead, he said.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

KXAN.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s