Understanding Charges on Your Electric Bill
Recently, the Public Utilities Commission of Texas (PUC) published "Customer Connection," which outlines some of the charges on your phone and electric bill. My last article outlined some of the charges found on your telephone bill. This article features the portion on electric bill charges.
To receive a copy of the report, please visit the PUC's website at www.puc.state.tx.us, or feel free to contact my office for a copy.
With the onset of Retail Electric competition in Texas, the format of electric bills may have changed. The following are some of the charges most likely to appear on your electric bill. City owned utilities, rural cooperatives or other areas that have not entered the competitive electric market may not reflect the same charges outlined in this fact sheet.
Customer charges - flat fee applied each month regardless of the amount of kilowatt hours (kWh) used. Fee covers meter reading, equipment, and customer service.
Recurring Charges - identifies and itemizes any recurring charges other than for electric service.
Non-Recurring Charges - identifies and itemizes the amount included in the amountdue for any non-recurring charge such as late fees, returned check fees, restoration of service fees, or other fees disclosed in the Retail Electric Provider's terms of service contract provided to the customer.
Total Current Charges - balances from the preceding bill, payments made since the preceding bill, total amount due and a checkbox for the customer to voluntarily donate money to the bill payment assistance program.
New Services or Products - obvious notice of any new products or services being provided to the customer since the previous bill.
Changes in Rates - any change in the customer's rates or charges due to a variablerate feature of the Terms of Service contract.
Fuel Charge/Factor - this charge allows the Affiliate Retail Electric Provider to recover the cost of fuel (natural gas, coal, nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, etc.) used to generate electricity. This charge is regulated by the PUC for Affiliate Retail Electric Providers. Affiliate Retail Electric Providers may request changes twice per year to reflect significant changes in the price of natural gas. Competitive Retail Electric Provider's may change their rates without approval from the PUC.
Late Payment Penalty - A one-time penalty not more than 5.0% may be charged on a delinquent bill. Penalty does not apply to residential or small commercial customersof the POLR or customers receiving a low income discount (LITE UP TEXAS). The 5.0% penalty may not be applied to any balance to which the penalty has alreadybeen applied.
City Sales Tax - Sales tax collected by your city.
Retail Electric Providers may bundle all charges associated with your electric service into the price per Kwh or they may separate the charges using the following:
Transmission and Distribution Service - Charge to cover the cost of moving electricity from the generation plant to your home.
Generation Service - Costs associated with making the electricity at the generationplant.
Transition Charge - Utilities are allowed to securitize or refinance, their regulatory assets and/or stranded costs, as long as it benefits ratepayers. Securitizing debt provides funding at a lower cost than traditional utility funding. Utilities are allowed to recover the transaction costs of securitization through this fee.
System Benefit Fund - A non bypassable charge set by the PUC, not to exceed 65 cents per megawatt hour. Pays for statewide low income discount program, energy efficiency programs, customer education program, and reimburses school districts due to loss in property taxes.
Nuclear Decommission Fund Fee - Fee that covers the cost of safely removing a generation facility from service, reducing residual radioactivity to a level that permits release of the property for unrestricted use and termination of license. Only the local wires company or transmission and distribution utility can asses this fee to any company that uses their wires to deliver electricity to consumers.
To contact Sen. Deuell about the legislative process, contact the Capitol Office at (512) 463-0556 or mail to Sen. Bob Deuell, Texas Senate, P.O. Box 12068, Austin, TX 78711. The website for the Texas Senate is www.Senate.state.tx.us. The e-mail address for Sen. Deuell is: firstname.lastname@example.org.