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DMN Watchdog: Texas Electric Market Riddled With, "Deceivers, Manipulators And Violators"

August 11,2017

Dave Lieber, The Dallas Morning News Watchdog, again took aim at REPs "manipulating" the Power to Choose site

While Lieber's overall point, that companies will massage products to appear the lowest cost on Power to Choose under the criteria used for such price ranking, stands (though we don't consider products which meet all applicable rules and merely price to take advantage of a flawed price comparison to be manipulation), Lieber misses the mark on several issues as well as his ultimate conclusion

Lieber, citing a customer report, says that a REP listed a "false" price offer that doesn't list the "added" Oncor charges, resulting in the company being listed first

If what Lieber describes is true, then the REP is in violation of the substantive rules (as we have noted before when Lieber has made similar complaints), since the EFL-quoted average price MUST include all recurring charges, which would include the Oncor charges, if passed through by the REP. Lieber should name this REP publicly if it is actually in violation of any rules. Of course, the REP may elect not to price its product as a pass-through of Oncor charges, and instead present the customer with a simple all-in rate. So long as the average EFL rate includes all recurring charges, the lack of a break-out of TDU rates not only is not against the rules, but would not result in the REP falsely rising to the top of the price listing since all its recurring charges would be in the price, and the customer would only pay such charges.

Indeed, Lieber complains that pricing is too complex, but then complains when companies don't break out the Oncor charges, which only adds more numbers the customer needs to consider

Lieber complains about the lack of an apples to apples comparison, yet the reason the Power to Choose site can be "manipulated" is because the PUC created an artificial apples to apples comparison: the all-in average rate at three usage tiers (1,000 kWh, etc.)

Lieber chides a REP for recommending that the Power to Choose site price listing be discontinued, yet such an action would actually benefit customers and save them money by removing the ability for REPs to "game" what has to be a neutral system and which can't recommend (or criticize) certain products (or REPs)

Without Power to Choose, customers would be compelled to use third-party sites which simply won't offer gimmick or teaser products to customers -- the types of products which only appear on Power to Choose because of its price ranking.

See Lieber's column here

Texas   Pricing   Power To Chose  

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