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Texas Says Changes To Website Will Help Consumers Avoid Penalties For Conserving Electricity

The Texas Public Utility Commission says it is making a change to warn you about penalty fees; fees that can mean you pay more money when you use less electricity.

They’re called minimum usage fees and if you think encouraging people to conserve energy is good, the fees sound bad. Many electricity payment plans have them.

When you sign up thinking you’ve locked in a certain price for electricity, you may get hit with a $10 a month penalty for not using the minimum amount of electricity as specified in the contract you signed.

A bill this year in the state legislature would have banned the fees. But the bill was killed.

Now, the Public Utility Commission of Texas is taking a step to at least give savvy shoppers a way to find out which plans have the fees.

“We want the customer to know whether one is being used or not,” says Terry Hadley, utility commission spokesperson.

Hadley tells News 88.7 that on the state’s Power to Choose website where you can compare different electricity plans, there will soon be a filter you can use to find plans without the minimum usage penalty fee.

“We would expect to incorporate that in the next two, three, four months,” says Hadley.

He says the commission is always looking for ways to improve the Power to Choose website, which critics say can be hard for the average consumer to use to find the best deals on electricity.

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Dave Fehling

Director of News and Public Affairs

As Director of News and Public Affairs, Dave Fehling manages the radio news operation at Houston's NPR station. Previously, he was a reporter at the station, covering the oil & gas industry and its impact on the environment. He won top state honors for in-depth and investigative reporting as well...

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