Residents of Lubbock, Texas: It's Not Too Late to Choose Your New Electric Provider

Lubbock Power & Light moves into ERCOT, where its customers must choose a new electric provider and rate. If you don't act by Feb. 15, one will be chosen for you.

Katie Collins Managing Editor
Katie Collins is a senior editor for CNET covering home energy and solar power. Katie previously covered personal finance as a senior editor on NextAdvisor with a focus on mortgages and the housing market. She has also been an editor for The Simple Dollar, Reviews.com, Interest.com and CreditCards.com. Katie holds a bachelor's degree deviant behavior and social control from CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice and spent a decade working with at-risk teenagers and facilitating family crisis intervention and anger management groups. Katie took her counseling skills and passion for helping people into service journalism. Her goal is to help people make important decisions and reach their personal life goals. Katie's free time is spent with her two human children and two fur children. You can reach me at kcollins@cnet.com
Expertise Energy, Solar Power, Deregulated Energy, Personal Finance, Mortgages, Home Equity, Loans
Katie Collins
5 min read
A map of Lubbock, Texas with a red pin

Lubbock, Texas, is now deregulated and residents can choose their own electric provider.  

Getty Images

If you live in Lubbock, Texas, the good news is you can now choose a new electric provider and how much you pay per kilowatt hour. The bad news is, if you don't make a selection by Feb. 15, one will be chosen for you. 

The Lubbock Power & Light utility service area is officially deregulated -- meaning residents there now have to shop, compare and choose an electric provider. Prior to this change, Lubbock, as a regulated area, had only one available provider: its utility, LP&L.

"The completion of this historic move concludes over eight years of work and constitutes the largest migration of electrical load in state history," LP&L said in a December 2023 press release

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But experts urge Lubbock residents to take the time to make a selection. Choosing the wrong provider or plan would mean experiencing some rate volatility from month to month, according to Chris Ercoli, president and CEO of the Retail Energy Advancement League, a national energy deregulation advocacy organization. 

Though having a provider chosen for you isn't the end of the world, Ercoli says it's not that much different than the variable rate you had before with LP&L. But this move from regulated utility to deregulated energy choice empowers customers to choose an electricity product that best suits their profile, he said. 

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For example, if you're an EV driver, Ercoli explained, some plans offer free night and weekend electric vehicle charging. "If you care about renewable energy, someone's offering you perhaps 100% renewable energy products," he said. 

Here's what you need to know.

What's the new role of LP&L?

In March, LP&L will transition to a transmission and distribution service provider, or TDSP, with the sole responsibility of delivering and transmitting power to homes and maintaining the meters, poles and power lines. LP&L will also be responsible for addressing power outages. 

The supply of electricity will come from your new electric retailer or provider, which will also send your bill.

Deregulation may help customers avoid getting trapped with a utility's bad investment decisions.

"If a municipal utility executes a contract for supply and they make a bad investment decision, that municipal entity passes all of that cost and exposure on to their customers," said Ercoli. "That's the risk of having a regulated entity that's making energy decisions on your own behalf."

In this new deregulated world (which was unanimously decided by the council), the people of Lubbock have options and can make their own decisions. Ercoli explained that now Lubbock customers no longer need to worry that their utility may make risky decisions. Instead, the new energy supplier you selected is the one that's taking all that market risk. But they're agreeing to give you a fixed rate, which takes the risk off you, Ercoli said.  

Read more: Compare Electricity Rates in Texas 

The power to choose: What to expect  

Much of Texas is already deregulated, Lubbock is just now joining the ranks. The hundreds of electric providers in Texas will now be able to service Lubbock as well. 

There is a six-week window, from Jan. 5 through Feb. 15, when residents can shop, compare providers and make a decision. March is when you can expect the official changes and your final bill from LP&L. 

You can expect to see your new electric bill come from your new chosen provider, with new rates and terms sometime in March, according to the LP&L website.

LP&L deregulation timeline
Lubbock Power & Light

The shift from one option to many can be overwhelming. 

"Imagine the first time you go to the grocery store as a kid, and you walk down the cereal aisle for the first time. And before then maybe the only thing that you were served was oatmeal and then all of a sudden you get to the store you're like, 'Oh my gosh, like so many options,'" Ercoli said.  

"This is what the people of Lubbock are experiencing right now. They are getting so many interesting products into the marketplace that they otherwise didn't have access to." 

What happens if I don't make a selection?

There are three providers approved by the Texas Public Utility Commission that act as providers of last resort, or POLR, said Ercoli. Those are TXU, Octopus and Reliant Energy. Anyone in Lubbock who doesn't make a choice by Feb. 15, will default to one of these three companies. Without making a provider or plan selection, you'll likely end up on a variable-rate plan, said Ercoli. These are rates that change from month to month based on market conditions. "But in a perfect world, you as a customer are going out and picking something that just works best for you and your household."

Ercoli strongly recommends doing the work to research and make a selection to get the best possible outcome for your electric bill. If you're budget-conscious and want a predictable bill, he says, it's best to shop and find a fixed rate product. 

How to choose the right provider or plan

LP&L is hosting a number of shopping fairs through Feb. 10, where you can bring your electric bill and talk to providers in person. 

Ercoli said there's a lot of value in showing up to one of these shopping fairs. "I think it was 12 suppliers that showed up to that event. And you can speak to each one of them directly in a forum that allows you to perhaps make better decisions about what you're comfortable choosing," he said. "That's why you saw 8,000 people show up."

LP&L provides a list of approved retail electric providers and warns to proceed with caution if approached by any company not listed as an approved provider.  

LP&L also provides some instructional videos to help educate you on how to shop and compare electric plans and providers. 

Your best source of truth is to read the EFL, or electricity facts label, that comes with the plan being offered. In the EFL, you'll find all the rates, fees, terms and conditions associated with each plan. Pay attention to the usage requirements for the plan. Each plan will benefit a certain usage profile, and choosing the wrong one can be costly. 

Most Texas electricity shopping websites have a filter option to sort by your usage. For example, on PowerToChoose, Texas' state-run shopping site, or SaveOnEnergy (which shares a parent company with CNET) you can filter by 500, 1,000 or 2,000 kWh usage and the fees that apply to each usage level. Look at your electric bill for the last 12 months and see how often you go above or below each of these thresholds. For example, if you're consistently above 2,000 kWH each month, you'll know to find a plan that offers the cheapest rate for over 2,000 kWh consumers all year round.