Interesting commentary in the DMN this morning about “Sneaky Fees”…see video below. What I find a little misleading though, is the complete failure to mention the electricity facts label (EFL) and to note that minimum usage fees may be included in the average price calculation depending on the exact level of usage that triggers the minimum usage fee. All recurring fees are required to be included in the average price calculation for each product’s EFL at three different usage levels. The whole purpose of the EFL is to present and “apples to apples” comparison between products. Unfortunately, Mr. Schnurman confuses the issue by attempting to equate an apples to apples comparison with a much more specific to each customer cost savings calculator as he refers to the feature on the www.currentchoice.com website. Cost savings calculators are great. Should the PUCT incorporate one on their website? That’s their call. But to run a headline that alleges the PUCT’s website has the Power to Confuse and that sneaky fees obscure the cost of electricity is simply sensationalism. As his own column points out, the fees “are disclosed (often prominently).”
What is true is that there is no easy way to compare a customer’s total anticipated cost among various providers as there can be many non-recurring fees that are unique to how a customer uses electricity. For example, a customer may incur disconnect fees if they fail to make timely payments with one REP, while another may not charge such a fee.
All non-recurring fees are required to be disclosed by the PUCT in each REPs Terms of Service document.
Could it all be much simpler if there were no fees? REPs, like airlines, tend to implement fees to directly recoup cost drivers. Disconnect fees are imposed when you get disconnected, just like baggage fees are imposed on those who want to check bags. If such fees weren’t charged, all of us would pay a higher price.