The mission of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is to direct and ensure reliable and cost-effective operation of the electric grid and to enable fair and efficient market-driven solutions to meet customers' electric service needs.
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The ERCOT grid covers approximately 75 percent of the land area in Texas.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) manages the flow of electric power to approximately 20 million Texas customers - representing 85 percent of the state's electric load and 75 percent of the Texas land area.
As the independent system operator for the region, ERCOT schedules power on an electric grid that connects 38,000 miles of transmission lines and more than 500 generation units. ERCOT also manages financial settlement for the competitive wholesale bulk-power market and administers customer switching for 5.9 million Texans in competitive choice areas.
Balanced market rules are a basic element in Texas competition. Clear, predictable and well-designed rules help foster a stable electricity market. Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) market rules are developed by participants from all aspects of the electricity industry. The rules and amendments are reviewed by the Public Utility Commission of Texas to ensure that they satisfy the public interest.
Texas lawmakers changed state law to allow customers to have more control over their purchase of electric service because they believe competition is good for Texas. Over time, competition for electric service is expected to lower rates and speed the development of new products and services.
WHAT HAS CHANGED?
In the past, one company provided all parts of your electric service (generation, transmission and distribution, and retail sales). With competition, these parts are separated into different companies. Generation, or production of electricity, was deregulated in 1995, resulting in an ample supply of new, cleaner and more efficient power plants throughout Texas.
The actual delivery of electricity across poles and wires to your home is called transmission and distribution. These services are provided to you by your local wires company, which is responsible for maintaining the poles and wires, and responding to emergencies and power outages as always. The Public Utility Commission continues to regulate transmission and distribution to ensure the safety and reliability of your electric service.
With electric competition, Retail Electric Providers sell electricity to you and provide functions such as customer service and billing. Retail Electric Providers compete for your business by offering lower prices, renewable energy options, added customer service benefits or other incentives.
No matter which Retail Electric Provider provides your service, the Public Utility Commission continues to enforce customer protections and regulate the delivery of electricity to ensure it is delivered safely and reliably by the local wires company .
Competition also is expected to create new jobs, stimulate economic development and help our environment.
All Retail Electric Providers must adhere to Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) rules and regulations designed to protect you against fraudulent, unfair, misleading, discriminatory or anti-competitive practices.
These protections include:
Non-Discrimination: In addition to standard discrimination prohibitions, a Retail Electric Provider may not deny service or discriminate in the marketing of electric service based on a customer's income level, location in an economically distressed area, or qualification for low-income or energy efficiency services.
Slamming and Cramming: Slamming is switching your electric service provider without your permission. Cramming is adding charges to your electric bill for additional services without your permission. Both slamming and cramming are illegal.
Dispute Resolution: Retail Electric Providers must promptly investigate customer complaints and customers have the right to make complaints about a Retail Electric Provider to the PUC.Privacy of Information: No Retail Electric Provider can release any customer-specific information to another Retail Electric Provider or any other companies without your permission.
Safety and Reliability: No matter which Retail Electric Provider you choose, the Public Utility Commission continues to enforce customer protections and regulate the delivery of electricity to ensure it is delivered safely and reliably by the local wires company.
DELIVERY OF ELECTRICITY
When you choose a new electric provider, you are choosing the company that provides or sells you electricity - a company called a Retail Electric Provider. These companies purchase electricity from competing power plants, and electricity is delivered to your home or business over the same poles and wires that are in your neighborhood today.
The actual delivery of the electricity ("transmission and distribution") is still provided by your local utility, now called a local wires company. In a competitive electric market, your local wires company will continue to be responsible for maintaining the poles and wires that deliver electricity to your home or business. You and your neighbors can all have different Retail Electric Providers, but you all have the same local wires company.
An important message from the Commissioners regarding Electric Choice and the reliability of your electric service. - 01/05
REPAIRS AND EMERGENCIES
If you experience an emergency or power outage, you may call:
Your Retail Electric Provider, who will work with the local wires company to repair the problem, or connect you to your local wires company. The number for repairs and emergencies printed on your electric bill. Your local wires company as you do today.