Electricity prices briefly surged past a $9,000 per megawatt-hour price cap in Texas last week as extreme heat sent power demand skyrocketing.
Most customers won't feel the price surge because they pay a set rate, but there are some who are feeling it. A Houston company called Griddy promises access to wholesale energy prices and savings in the long run. But the recent heat and high demand left many of its customers facing sticker shock.
Some Griddy customers say they're paying almost $600 for 16 days of energy service. It’s the downside of buying wholesale.
When prices are low the savings are passed on to consumers. But when they're high, Griddy customers have been paying up to $9 per kilowatt hour this summer. That's more than 100 times more than the average locked in price for a new contract on Monday.
The company coo admitted current prices are five times worse than anything Texas has seen for the last five years. But he said if customers stick around they are sure to see savings in the cooler months to make up for the summer spikes.
Here's the problem: Griddy customers pay by pre-funding their account. Many say they are tapped out and can’t afford to keep paying. The money they already deposited was supposed to last for months instead of days.
Because of the high prices, Griddy is now refunding their $10 service fee for August.
Griddy has also sent a tip sheet to customers. It includes unplugging your appliances and turning off the A/C and heading to the local public library or a shopping mall to cool off during high-price peak hours.
My two cents: if you're good at using the smart tools Griddy provides you can curb your use during high priced hours of the day and according to the data they sent, historically their service will save you money over time.
But I already have a full time job. The idea that I need to watch for Griddy pricing alerts on my cell phone so I can tell my smart thermostat to shut off the A/C in the middle of the day, only to have to cool off a hot house later is a much bigger commitment than I'm willing to make.
There are plenty of programs out there with fixed pricing that are better for budgeting.
Here's the good news: Griddy is a no-contract service, so if you want to pay what you owe then get out, you're free to.
Many competitors who shop the market for you to keep you in a low priced plan are already jumping in with discounts and promotions.
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