North Texans could see increases in their electric bills the next few months

It’s virtually impossible to escape rising costs, as the price of gas, food, and everything else is up these days.

Just as record heat continues to hit North Texas, people will see a spike in their electric bills as well.

"Higher costs are coming because wholesale market values, or the prices in the wholesale market, are higher," explained Joshua Rhodes, research associate at the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin. "And eventually, that does make it down to the bills we have to pay every month."

Rhodes said natural gas prices are the highest in more than a decade, which trickles down to the consumer when plants that generate electricity are powered by natural gas.

"They want to protect their business, so they are building contingencies in their pricing to protect themselves," said Mike England, vice president of Energy Ogre.

Houston-based Energy Ogre acts on behalf of customers to shop the retail electric market. 

Customers pay Energy Ogre a fee for them to find the cheapest plan for their energy usage. 

England’s suggestion to customers looking to buy a new energy plan is don't buy long-term. 

He said signing a two or three-year contract will lock you in to these high prices when the market eventually calms down.

"Shorter term, six-month, 12-month plan," England said. "You are seeing some longer-term plans that look like they are a little bit lower, but the providers are doing that because we anticipate the market to go down in the future, in the next 12 months."

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Texas electricity prices have risen 70% year-to-year, according to data compiled by the Dallas Morning News from the state's power to choose website.

ERCOT, the company that manages the Texas power grid is expecting record heat this year. 

According to energy consultant Doug Lewin, ERCOT said Tuesday's forecasted demand on the power grid will match the summer peak for 2019.

"I think we'll do all right this summer, but I mean, I think we're going to see higher prices than we otherwise would have, given the way that the grid is being operated," Rhodes said. "And just in the price of things, like natural gas and coal, they're driving up the price of electricity."

This week, ERCOT did a test of its notification system. It’s not yet known if there will be a real call to conserve next week.