Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) - TrueCost Electric Portal

Frequently Asked Questions

What is green energy?

Green energy, also known as renewable energy, is power that is generated from eco-friendly resources such as solar, wind and water. Customers can select electric plans that contain a mix of green and non-green sources or plans that are up to 100-percent green. These plans often come with a "green premium." To understand what green premium is currently being charged on electric plans, please refer to the CenterPoint Energy Electric Price Index.

Is my personal information shared with Retail Electric Providers (REPs) on an ongoing basis?

TrueCost does not share personal registration information with REPs unless you are enrolling in a plan with that company. You then give us the authorization to do so. We do not share an individual's shopping preferences with REPs either. We may, however, note trends in preferences for plan options/features that are based on inputs from numerous shoppers. This is done in an effort to help the REPs create plans that are more consumer-friendly and meet market demands and needs.

How do I reset my password?

Click the “forgot password” link from the login page or from the top of any screen on the site if you’re not logged in.  You will type in the email address you used during registration and will receive a temporary password at that email address. When you come back to TrueCost, use the temporary password at login and you’ll be prompted to choose a new password.
 
If you no longer have the email account that you registered with, please email us.

Can I switch electric plans and/or retail electric providers any time during the year?

Yes, you have the freedom to change electric plans and/or retail electric providers at any time. There are two things you should be aware of:

  1. Cancellation fees (also known as Early Termination Fees) if you're currently under a contract. For some plans, these fees can be in the hundreds of dollars. All Retail Electric Providers allow customers to terminate without any penalties if they are within 14 days of the contract expiration date, but otherwise the savings you could receive by enrolling in a lower-priced plan may or may not exceed the cost of cancelling.
  2. Seasonal pricing of certain electric plans may make it favorable to change plans and/or retail electric providers.  

Why do you need my permission to get my meter data?

Your electric meter data is, by law, your personal information and it cannot be released without your expressed approval. You control your meter data. A separate company within CenterPoint Energy – CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric LLC (CEHE) – manages smart meters and is the interface with retail electric providers that transmits meter data for monthly billing purposes.

As owner of your meter data, you are giving permission to CEHE to release it to CenterPoint Energy Services (the CenterPoint Energy company that manages TrueCost) for use in the TrueCost electric plan shopping analysis and in tools available to you for better management of your electricity account. CenterPoint Energy Services will not share your individual meter data with third parties.

Are all electric plans and Retail Electric Providers (REPs) available on TrueCost?

No. However, we have invited all active electric companies certified by the Public Utility Commission of Texas and active Retail Electric Providers in your service area to join TrueCost. We continue to reach out to them to share their plans on TrueCost. As TrueCost matures in the marketplace, we intend for the number of electric plans and providers to grow.

Do I have to pay a deposit in order to switch electric plans?

It depends on your credit and the policies of the Retail Electric Provider (REP) that you select. Retail Electric Providers share their policies with TrueCost so that we can better match customers with plans. Details concerning deposits and credit requirements for your provider can be found on the Terms of Service Agreement (TOSA) for the plans that interest you.

Will I be charged a fee if I request to be switched to a different Retail Electric Provider through TrueCost?

Consumers who switch their electric plans through TrueCost do not pay fees of any kind to TrueCost. The electric companies who sell electric plans pay a flat fee to TrueCost to post their plans to the site.
 
In certain cases, you may be charged by your Transmission and Distribution Utility (TDU) or your current electric company in certain cases.
 
If you currently live at the same address and are requesting to change from your current electric company to a new one at the next available date, this iscalled a standard switch. There are no fees to perform a standard switch order. If you self-select your switch date, your TDU may charge a fee to accommodate the out-of-cycle meter read for the final electric bill with your former electric company.
 
Also, if you are currently under a contract with an electric company, there may be fees associated with cancelling your current contract before its end date.  Check with your current electric company to determine any fees involved or whether you are under contract with them.
 
If you are a new customer and are moving to a new address and need to have service turned on, there are fees associated with connecting the new service.  Your TDU will charge your new electric company a fee to turn on the service, which will be passed through to you on your first bill.  The new electric company should be able to give you more details about the fee itself, as well as the amount.

What personal information is needed to sign up for a plan online?

In most cases, your social security number is required by the retail electric providers (REPs). It allows REPs to verify your identity and provides an extra layer of security should someone other than you try to switch your electric service without your knowledge or consent.  We will also collect and relay to your REP your contact details such as your name, address, email address, and telephone number in order for you to sign up for a plan. CenterPoint Energy takes data security and your privacy very seriously. If you have any questions about how we safeguard this information, please view our privacy policy.

I'm scheduled to move out of my current residence soon, but my power was switched off early. What do I do?

In a situation where your scheduled disconnection has occurred before you intended, chances are there was confusion with your current retail electric provider as to when you wanted the power turned off.  Follow the steps below to get things cleared up quickly:
 
  1. Whether you are sticking with your current provider or going with a new retail electric provider's plan, the current or old provider must be contacted first.  Typically, you can call the company's customer service/support number or email them, but calling is recommended for immediate assistance.
  2. Verify the date that you wanted the power to turn off AND the new/forwarding address for future contact.  Also, verify that they have received any acceptable supporting documentation for your move IF you are ending your contract.  This could be an executed lease, closing sale agreement, or other acceptable document. You will be held responsible for an Early Termination Fee if this is not provided.
  3. Next, if you are switching companies, contact the NEW provider to confirm the NEW date that you need the power switched on.  Make sure to have your customer information ( New address and ESID number) ready to verify with the new provider.
 Note:  This only refers to moving-out, not just regular contract or provider switches.
 

What happens if the Retail Electric Provider / electric company I use goes out of business? Will I be without power?

If your electric company unexpectedly goes out of business, there is a safety net in place that ensures you roll to a Provider of Last Resort (POLR) without an interruption of service. In this situation, the POLR may charge a different per-kWh price than your departing REP. However, the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) has rules in place which state that they cannot exceed a certain price. You will receive a communication from your new REP/POLR that gives more information and spells out your options.

If a REP knows it will be going out of business, then common practice is to try to proactively sell their business to another electric company. In addition, TrueCost has covered the merger/acquisition topic in a blog. Read it here: /news/2012/2/7/when-electric-providers-merge.

Why does TrueCost need my meter number?

The past usage from your home or business is the best way for TrueCost to do its math and present you with an estimate of the cost of the plans you're considering. Instead of running calculations using some standard profile that is shared by thousands other electricity consumers, we can -- with your permission -- pull in your actual past usage and get pricing that is more personalized to your consumption habits.

From a process standpoint, the meter number is matched with your ESI number as a way of validating that we have you tied to the right account.  Since a meter number is not public information, your sharing it with us is a way of validating that you personally give us permission to retrieve the usage information for that premise. 

 

Why doesn’t my meter data match what’s being provided to me by my electric provider or what is being reported to me by the Smart Meter Texas portal?

Retail Electric Providers' (REPs) billing cycles normally start on a given date within a month and end on a given date the following month.  Cycles can cover a period anywhere from 28 to 35 calendar days. For example, a cycle can run from March16 to April 15.  Your REP's site and bills may show the usage for a calendar month or the month that best matches a billing cycle (which may be off by several weeks).

TrueCost monthly data from the actual month that it is consumed. For example, if TrueCost gathers meter data for the month of April, it will gather the date that covers April 1 through April 30 only. By gathering monthly information, TrueCost can provide you with a more accurate picture of the costs of various plans you are considering. TrueCost builds a usage profile for an entire year's worth of electricity based on what you used in the last 12 months.  As new data comes in, we remove the oldest data.

What personal information is needed to sign up for a plan online?

In most cases, your social security number is required by the retail electric providers (REPs). It allows REPs to verify your identity and provides an extra layer of security should someone other than you try to switch your electric service without your knowledge or consent.  We will also collect and relay to your REP your contact details such as your name, address, email address, and telephone number in order for you to sign up for a plan. CenterPoint Energy takes data security and your privacy very seriously. If you have any questions about how we safeguard this information, please view our privacy policy.

I'm scheduled to move out of my current residence soon, but my power was switched off early. What do I do?

In a situation where your scheduled disconnection has occurred before you intended, chances are there was confusion with your current retail electric provider as to when you wanted the power turned off.  Follow the steps below to get things cleared up quickly:
 
  1. Whether you are sticking with your current provider or going with a new retail electric provider's plan, the current or old provider must be contacted first.  Typically, you can call the company's customer service/support number or email them, but calling is recommended for immediate assistance.
  2. Verify the date that you wanted the power to turn off AND the new/forwarding address for future contact.  Also, verify that they have received any acceptable supporting documentation for your move IF you are ending your contract.  This could be an executed lease, closing sale agreement, or other acceptable document. You will be held responsible for an Early Termination Fee if this is not provided.
  3. Next, if you are switching companies, contact the NEW provider to confirm the NEW date that you need the power switched on.  Make sure to have your customer information ( New address and ESID number) ready to verify with the new provider.
 Note:  This only refers to moving-out, not just regular contract or provider switches.
 

Why doesn’t my meter data match what’s being provided to me by my electric provider or what is being reported to me by the Smart Meter Texas portal?

Retail Electric Providers' (REPs) billing cycles normally start on a given date within a month and end on a given date the following month.  Cycles can cover a period anywhere from 28 to 35 calendar days. For example, a cycle can run from March16 to April 15.  Your REP's site and bills may show the usage for a calendar month or the month that best matches a billing cycle (which may be off by several weeks).

TrueCost monthly data from the actual month that it is consumed. For example, if TrueCost gathers meter data for the month of April, it will gather the date that covers April 1 through April 30 only. By gathering monthly information, TrueCost can provide you with a more accurate picture of the costs of various plans you are considering. TrueCost builds a usage profile for an entire year's worth of electricity based on what you used in the last 12 months.  As new data comes in, we remove the oldest data.

What is my Transportation and Distribution Utility's (TDU) contact information?

AEP
 
Website: https://www.aeptexas.com/
 
Website to report outage online at: https://www.aeptexas.com/outages/report/
 
For safety hazards and other customer service needs, please call our Customer Solutions Center at:
1-877-373-4858
For outages:
1-866-223-8508
Hablamos Español
Para obtener ayuda en español, llame al
1-877-373-4858
Para reportar un apagon, llame al
1-866-223-8508
 

CenterPoint Energy
 
 
•  Customer Service / Report an Electric Power Outage: 713-207-2222
800-332-7143
•  Report Downed Power Lines: 713-207-2222
•  Report Electricity Theft: 713-207-7225
877-570-5770
•  Report a Street Light Outage: CenterPointEnergy.com/outage

 
Oncor
 
website: http://www.oncor.com/
 
Locate Underground Powerlines Prior to Digging 811
Power Outages 1.888.313.4747
Service Requests / General Inquiries 1.888.313.6862
 
Texas New Mexico Power (TNMP)
 
website: http://www.tnmp.com/
 
Emergencies & Power Outages
 
Report an Electricity Emergency in TNMP Service Area
 
Call 888-866-7456
24-7-365
Select option 1
Report an Outage in TNMP Service Area
 
Call 888-866-7456
24-7-365
Select option 2
A recorded message will tell you:
if we know about any outages.
where any outages are located.
Select option 1 if the message doesn't say that we know about your outage.
You then will be transferred to an agent who can take your information.
 

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