Is this our future? CenterPoint launches website for electricity shopping


By Jesse Berst


As you'll read in the release on page 2, millions of Texans now have an online site for quickly and easily comparing electric plans from different providers. Here are some things to note (and to comment about in the Talk Back section at the bottom):


·         Because most customers have smart meters, the comparisons can be based on real-life data. Customers can see which offer is best for their particular consumption patterns.

·         Even though Houston (and the rest of Texas) has had retail competition for 10 years, 40% of Houstonians still don't take advantage.

·         Although the release talks mostly about price comparison, we hear anecdotally that a competitive price is just the "table stakes." The clincher is often something else bundled together with electricity. Some providers promise green energy, others offer a variety of incentives. Power retailers are making a mistake, in our opinion, if they think they can win just by being cheap.

CenterPoint Energy Services launches new shopping website


HOUSTON, Aug. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- CenterPoint Energy Services, Inc. (CES), an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of CenterPoint Energy, Inc. (NYSE: CNP), has launched, an electric plan shopping website that allows millions of Texas electric consumers to compare plans from multiple providers and switch plans all in one place.

The free, user-friendly site uses a home's past electricity usage to help consumers find the right electric plan for the way they use electricity.

"Even after 10 years of competition, 40 percent of Houstonians don't take full advantage of competitive electric rates," said Eric Sullivan, division senior vice president for CES. "Comparing retail electric providers takes time and gets confusing, but can help consumers avoid the hassle."

Since 2002, when most of the Texas electric market was restructured, Retail Electric Providers (REPs) have competed for customers by offering a variety of different pricing options and other incentives. CenterPoint Energy is not affiliated with any retail provider and offers free, unbiased analysis of various plans on the website.

  • Estimates the true monthly cost of electric plans - including fees and charges.
  • Allows consumers to go beyond price and compare REPs based on customer ratings, green-energy content, deposit requirements and contract terms.
  • Can use basic information about a consumer's residence to receive cost estimates based on an average-use profile if consumers are not interested in using their home's usage data.
  • Is designed to work with smart meters, which are now installed at substantially all Houston-area homes. With consumer permission, the site can access usage data and calculate the cost of various plans.

"Smart meters allow consumers to switch electric providers without the lengthy waiting period," said Sullivan. " gives them a quick and easy way to take advantage of this benefit with plan comparisons based on an individual home's actual electricity usage."

Houston-area electric consumers do not have to buy products/services from CES in order to continue receiving quality services from CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric, LLC, a regulated electric transmission and distribution service provider.

CenterPoint Energy, Inc., headquartered in Houston, Texas, is a domestic energy delivery company that includes electric transmission & distribution, natural gas distribution, competitive natural gas sales and services, interstate pipelines, and field services operations. The company serves more than five million metered customers primarily in Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. Assets total more than $22 billion. With over 8,800 employees, CenterPoint Energy and its predecessor companies have been in business for more than 135 years. For more information, visit the company's website at

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