Houston-based Champion Energy Services submitted the winning bid to provide electric service to households participating in the Waco Power Switch program sponsored by Prosper Waco to reduce energy costs.
A total of 924 households in Greater Waco have signed up to take part in the effort, and each will save an average of $368 annually on their electric bills, according to a press release from Prosper Waco.
During a bid process that attracted offers from four companies, Champion Energy Services agreed to provide electricity for a fixed rate of 3.1 cents per kilowatt-hour, along with a flat fee of $5.25 per month.
Meanwhile, Oncor will charge $5.25 a month and $3.65 cents per kWh to deliver electricity. Combined, the average price per kWh stands at 8.9 cents for 500 kWh of use, 7.8 cents per kWh for 1,000 kWh of use and 7.3 cents per kWh for 2,000 kWh of use, according to a breakdown of rates provided by Prosper Waco.
“It is a fair and transparent deal,” said Waco City Councilman John Kinnaird, a volunteer with Prosper Waco who recommended it pursue a program for residential customers after attending a Texas Municipal League meeting last year. “To avoid energy bill surprises, the rate does not have complex multiple-tiered rates built in, and no usage-based penalties, which will help residents lower their bills year-round.”
Kinnaird said the community will see a potential annual savings of $340,032, based on average savings and the number of households participating. The 924 households that registered to take part in Waco Power Switch have until Oct. 31 to accept Champion’s offer.
Also, on Oct. 27, Kinnaird will host a “bring your bill” event from noon to 2 p.m. in the Waco-McLennan County Central Library at 300 Austin Ave. Residents who have not signed up for Waco Power Switch are invited to bring their electric bills to get information on whether they could save money by switching as part of the deal Champion Energy Services is offering.
“If you are locked in to your current contract until Jan. 31, 2018, you can still switch to the winning rate secured through Waco Power Switch,” Kinnaird said. “This means more people will be able to switch to this rate without incurring a termination fee from their current provider.”
An independent service provider called iChoosr oversaw the selection process that produced Champion as the low bidder. It was founded in Europe and is expanding into the US and establishing an office in Austin, company vice president Filip Vissers said.
“One of the objectives of Prosper Waco is wealth creation and financial security,” Kinnaird said when Waco Power Switch was announced. “If we can help lower electric bills, that means more money going straight to the pocket instead of the utility company. If we could get just 5 percent of the households in Waco to sign up, that would be a great start.”
So far about 3 percent of households have expressed interest, but Kinnaird said he remains optimistic and believes the program has gained momentum, especially since more residents may join later in the year.
“Those wanting to sign up for this round still have a few weeks, and we will be going through this process again in the spring,” Prosper Waco spokeswoman Christina Helmick said.
Vissers said the response has been decent for a first offering.
“I think we hoped for around a thousand for the first program. People can still sign up, so we’re probably going to get there,” Vissers said. “It’s always difficult to assess when you do a round for the first time in a community, but nearly a thousand people, that’s decent.”
Vissers said Champion’s offer probably was the best rate Waco Power Switch could expect, considering the interested companies were asked to quote rates that did not include usage penalties.
“We’re trying to reach out to more towns and cities,” Vissers said. “We just attended another meeting of the Texas Municipal League in Houston, where we had an exhibition, and we met a lot of representatives of communities interested in the program. The more we add, the greater the buying power, because we will parallel with what’s going on in Waco.”
Kinnaird said in Prosper Waco’s press release that visitors to the Waco Power Switch site were polled about their existing energy provider.
“More than 71 percent of Greater Waco’s registrants indicated they have not switched electric providers in the past three years,” he wrote. “For these people, the program may be a good opportunity to check their electricity costs.”
Residents interested in exploring power options on their own can start at www.powertochoose.org, which calls itself “the official and unbiased electric choice website of the Public Utility Commission of Texas.”
Electric service nationwide cost an average of 12.55 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2016, while Texas’ average was 11.02 cents per kWh, according to Energy Information Administration data provided by Brittany Fitz-Chapman, Prosper Waco’s director of data and research.
Still, Texas has higher rates than Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma, whose rates are 9.11 cents, 9.9 cents and 10.7 cents per kWh, respectively, according to the information.