Electricity is typically paid for after the service has been provided. Because of this, most Retail Electricity Providers perform a soft credit check during your enrollment. It requires your full legal name, social security number, and date of birth. This helps them determine if they will require you to pay electricity deposits before starting your service. The deposit amount requested may be up to 1/5 of your estimated annual electricity costs. It could also be the total of your estimated bills for the first two months of service.
The good news is that these deposits are refundable. It will be returned to you in full plus a small amount of interest, the exact percentage of which is determined by the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT). In some circumstances, deposit waivers are given. This varies from provider to provider. However, you could always check with your provider to see if you qualify for an available waiver.
Why are you asked to pay an electricity deposit?
It’s a common misunderstanding that a deposit request is based solely on your overall credit score. Your high credit score does not exempt you from this process. However, the truth is that it mostly depends on your utility payment history (e.g. telephone, cable, electricity, or water). The most common reasons you may be asked to pay a credit check:
- No utility payment history – You’ve never had any utility accounts established in your name.
- Poor utility payment history – You’ve had missed or late payments with a utility company in the past 12 months.
- Outstanding balance owed – You owe a balance to a utility company that was sent to a collection agency and/or reported to a major credit bureau.
- Unable to verify your identity – This could be due to a typo in your personal information. Or, you have a credit freeze/fraud alert in place with any of the major credit bureaus.
What are the various deposit waiver options?
- Active Military – You must be currently serving in the U.S. Military and provide a copy of your active military ID.
- Over 65 years old – You must provide a copy of your Driver’s License and a recent electric bill showing good standing with your current provider.
- Victim of Family Violence – You must provide a completed Texas Council on Family Violence deposit waiver certification letter.
- Letter of Credit – A document from your current electric provider stating you have not had more than 1 late payment in the past 12 months.
When are electricity deposits returned?
Deposits are typically returned after 12 consecutive months of positive payment history with your provider. If you are with the provider for less than 12 months, it will be returned to you after your account has been closed given there is no outstanding balance owed. Otherwise, the deposit will first be applied to the outstanding balance, and any remaining deposit amount will be refunded to you.
How can you ensure your electricity deposit is returned?
Once you have met one of the scenarios above, contact your provider by phone or email to inquire about their specific process of returning a deposit. If you are an Energy Ogre member, you can send us a quick email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (832) 975-1000. We would be happy to help ensure your deposit is returned to you.
How can you avoid electricity deposits in the future?
The best way to avoid a deposit is to ensure you make payments to your utility companies on time. Setting up automatic payments with your provider, if you can, is a great way to avoid missing due dates. You may not be able to pay your bill on time on rare occurrences. Just make sure you work with your provider to set up a payment plan before you receive a late fee or disconnection notice.
Energy Ogre strives to help our members enroll in competitive plans that fit their needs, even if they run into any of these issues. We work with them to evaluate all of the available options and find the right solution for them. We also assist in submitting any necessary documentation and making sure they are enrolled successfully. Though they are rarely a welcome surprise, deposit requests do not have to be insurmountable hurdles to affordable electricity service.