At Energy Ogre, we’re proud to be helping thousands of people save on their energy bills. Yet a lot of people are “ogre-vated” that we can’t help them. Why is that?
Unfortunately, virtually all the areas in Texas served by electric cooperatives, also known as co-ops or municipal utilities, are closed to retail competition. They operate on “one-price-fits-all” models, ultimately preventing Energy Ogre from selecting an alternative provider for you that could save you money on your power bill.
Now, we’re not knocking co-ops. They’ve provided a basic need for years in rural communities. In fact, Texas was one of the first states in the Union to establish an organization that would allow communities to decide how they would get and pay for their power. So it’s important to remind ourselves of a little history.
The History of Electric Cooperatives in Texas
Back in the 1930’s, folks in rural Texas used wood stoves and read by coal-oil lamps. It was not yet profitable for the existing power companies to serve electricity to rural areas. But, in 1935, the Rural Electrification Administration made it possible for rural communities to borrow federal money and form local, consumer-owned electric companies. That’s when Bartlett Electric Cooperative in Central Texas was born, and became the first in the nation to turn on the lights for its members.
Today, Texas has 75 electric cooperatives that provide service to nearly 3 million member-consumers in 241 of the state’s 254 counties. They operate as not-for-profit businesses governed by member-elected boards of directors. Boards set policies for the operation of the co-op system, including the rate charged to all customers.
Since 2002, cooperatives can choose to participate in retail competition at any time, if there is a resolution adopted by the board of directors. Few have opted to do so before now for various reasons, including long-term financial contracts or loans and tax status with federal bonds.
Good News for Cooperative Power Customers
Energy Ogre CEO, Jesson Bradshaw, says there is good news to be heard for cooperative customers. He believes co-ops are evolving with the needs of its customers. As Texas populations explode, many rural areas are now urbanized and many co-ops are looking at alternative structures and making needed changes to serve its customers properly. Yet, there will still be others that have a financial model that inhibits them from entering the competitive market.
If you’re in a co-op or municipality, you do still have a voice. If you want to be in a competitive market, Bradshaw suggests you call or write your board or city council to share your opinion.