Frequently Asked Questions
- What are slamming and cramming?
- Slamming is the unauthorized switch of your electric service. Cramming is an unauthorized charge on your electric bill.
- What should I do if my service has been switched without my permission?
- If this occurs, you should call the unauthorized Retail Electric Provider (REP) immediately to discuss the situation. If the provider insists they were chosen, ask them to send you a copy of the authorization. If the provider cannot provide it and you think you have been slammed, you should contact the Public Utility Commission's (PUC) Customer Protection Division toll-free at 1-888-PUC-TIPS (1-888-782-8477) or visit www.puc.texas.gov/consumer/
- What if my contract is about to expire?
- Retail electric providers are required to notify residential customers at least 30 days before a contract expires. The residential customer can switch without incurring an early termination charge if the switch is no earlier than 14 days before the contract expiration date provided in the notice. If the customer takes no action in response to the notice, the REP will serve the customer on a month-to-month product.
- Can a company back bill or re-bill me?
- If there has been an error with your bill or you did not receive a bill, the company can re-bill your account up to 180 days from the original bill issuance date for charges from the time the error occurred. If the correction increases your charges by more than $50.00, you may request a deferred payment plan for the balance. The company can re-bill more than 180 days in cases of meter tampering.
- Can my bill be estimated?
- A company may estimate your bills if actual meter readings cannot be obtained or if your REP does not receive meter readings from the Transmission and Distribution Utility (TDU). Generally, estimated meter readings cannot happen more than three consecutive billing cycles.
- Can I be charged a deposit?
- A REP may require a residential customer or applicant to establish and maintain satisfactory credit as a condition of providing service. The amount of the deposit may be up to 1/5th of the estimated annual billing or the sum of the estimated billings for the next two months.
- What is the AMS meter charge, and who authorized it?
- In 2005, the Texas Legislature directed the PUC to authorize electric delivery companies to assess a surcharge to recover the costs of Smart Meters. This surcharge will be shared among all electricity users in each electric delivery company's service area. The surcharge not only covers the installation of the meter but also the back office systems and infrastructure needed to read the new meter.
- When can the utility disconnect my service?
- A REP may authorize the disconnection of a customer's electric service after proper notice is given and not before the first day after the disconnection date provided in the notice. Service may be disconnected for non-payment of a bill, deferred payment arrangement, or deposit. A TDU may disconnect service in cases of emergencies, meter tampering, or unsafe conditions.
- What if I can't pay my bill?
- You should try to make payment arrangements before your bill is due or your service is disconnected. Call your REP to make payment arrangements or request to enter into a deferred payment plan. You are eligible for a deferred payment plan if you have not received more than two termination notices in the past year. It is important to keep up with the terms of the payment plan, or you could be disconnected. To make budgeting easier, ask about level billing programs or average payment plans that offer bills that are about the same amount each month. All customers who are not currently delinquent with their electric bills are eligible for these programs.
- What if I have a pending disconnection and I have a medical condition that requires me to have electricity?
Customers that have medical conditions and are at risk of being disconnected may request a deferred payment plan for the balance due. Each time a customer seeks to avoid disconnection of service under this subsection, the customer must accomplish all of the following by the stated date of disconnection:
- Have his/her attending physician (for purposes of this subsection, the "physician" shall mean any public health official, including medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, and any other similar public health official) call or contact the REP no later than the stated date of disconnection;
- Have his/her attending physician submit a written statement to the REP; and
- Enter into a deferred payment plan.
- Can I change the due date of my bill?
- REPs are not prohibited from offering customers the option of choosing their own due date. If your REP does not offer such an option, your due date will remain 16 days after the issuance of each bill.
- How does prepaid billing work?
- REPs offering prepaid electric service require payment in advance of receiving service. Bills are based on estimated usage and are reconciled periodically with a customer's actual usage.
- When can I be charged an early termination fee?
- If applicable, early termination fees are charged when a customer is under contract and service is canceled before the end of the contract term. Early termination fees are disclosed in the customer's Terms of Service and Electric Facts Label.
- Is a REP allowed to share my customer proprietary information with a third party for the provision of electric service?
A REP may release your information to a third party to perform services or functions such as meter reading or billing on the REP's behalf if the services or functions are related to the provision of your electric service. The third party must sign a confidentiality agreement with the REP to ensure the protection of your information. The REP may also share your information with:
- The Public Utility Commission of Texas as part of Commission's regulatory oversight.
- Consumer reporting agency.
- Energy assistance agency.
- local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.
- Is a REP allowed to share my customer proprietary information with a third party for purposes of marketing the third party's products or services?
- A REP may release your information to a third party for the purpose of marketing that party's services or products, if the REP provides you the opportunity to opt-out of the release of information either at the time you enroll for service or by sending a notice at least 30 days prior to the release of your information.
- What if a REP refuses to provide electric service to me unless I agree to release my customer proprietary information to a third party?
- If a REP refuses to provide you electric service unless you agree to allow the release of your information to a third party, you may search for a REP that does not have such a requirement by visiting www.powertochoose.org. In a competitive marketplace there are other REPs that would like to provide electric service to you so you may shop around for a REP that does not require such a release as a condition of receiving electric service. If you are unable to find a REP that does not require the release of your information as a condition of receiving electric service, you are encouraged to contact the Public Utility Commission's (PUC) Customer Protection Division toll-free at 1-888-PUC-TIPS (1-888-782-8477) or visit www.puc.texas.gov/consumer/