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Why are CPS rates lower than other utilities in Texas?

ACPSis the nation's largest municipally owned energy utility providing gas and electric services. They serve approximately 804,000 customers in and around the San Antonio area.

The reason they typically have lower rates than other utilities in Texas is probably due to CPSbeing a municipally owned utility. This means they do not have the same pressure to make money as investor owned utilities do. Therefore they can charge less for electricity. Another reason is CPShas 13 solar farms that generate 497 MW (megawatts) of power, providing them with cheap generation.

A summary of CPSresidential electric rate plans

CPSoffers tiered rate plans and a demand billing rate plan. CPSdo not have a Time-of-Use rate plan available. This is highly unusual, most of the big utilities have started to switch to time Time-of-Use billing. I expect that CPSwill soon offer a Time-of-Use plan for residential customers.

A tiered rate plan is where the price paid per kWh changes depending on how many kWh have been used that month. The amount (in kWhs) at which the rate changes is sometime referred to as the baseline amount. Usually, you will be charged a lower amount per kWh until you use above the baseline amount then you'll be charged more per kWh.

A time of use electric rate plan is an electricity plan where the amount you are charged per kilowatt hour (kWh) for power is determined by the time of day that you use it.

They typically have peak times of the day with higher rates and an off peak with lower rates.

Residential all electric service (RA)

The RA is a tiered rate plan with different rates during the summer and winter. This rate has a baseline amount of 600 kWh, meaning if you go over this you pay a different rate.

*Peak Capacity Charge is applicable only during the summer billing period (June - September).

If you want to know more, you can read residential all electric service rate.

Residential service (RE)

The RE is a tiered rate. The service charge is $8.75, this charge cannot be avoided and will be on the bill every month. The rate is $0.101 per kWh for all kWh. Except in summer (June - September) and additional charge for $0.0198 will be charged for each kWh over 600 kWh.

Plan Name: Residential (RE)
Last Update: February 1, 2014
Fixed Charge: Service Charge: $8.75
Summer ()
Rate per kWh
Tier1: $0.101
Tier2: $0.121
Energy in Tier
Tier1: First 600 kWh
Tier2: Above 600 kWh
Winter ()
Rate per kWh
Tier1: $0.101
Energy in Tier
Tier1: All kWhs

*Peak Capacity Charge is applicable only during the summer billing period (June - September).

If you want to know more, you can read residential all electric service rate.

Large Use residential capacity energy (RCE)

The RCE is a demand billing rate plan. This means the Utility will charge a reduced rate per kWh for all kWh but also charge a demand billing charge. This charge takes the 15 minute period during the month when you've used the most power (in kW) and multiplies it with the demand charge.

 

Minimum Bill - $10.50. A higher Minimum Bill may be specified in the Customer's Application and Agreement for Electric Service. The Minimum Bill is not subject to reduction by credits allowed under the adjustments below.

Billing Demand - The Billing Demand will be the KW as determined from reading the CPSEnergy demand meter for the 15 minute period of the Customer's greatest Demand reading during the month, except that during the non-summer months the Billing Demand will be no higher than the previous summer's highest Billing Demand.

 

This plan is good for high energy users because of the lower rate per kWh. Although the demand charge can become a large fee if the household uses a lot of electricity at a time. Remember the demand charge is calculated with the 15 minutes during the month when you use the most electricity.

If you have the TV, oven and a few lights on you'll probably be using about 3 kW. Let's say that was the maximum amount of energy used for the month was 3 kW, this would mean your summer demand billing charge would be $24 (3*8=24).

Although at some point in the month you might have more that the TV, oven and a few lights running. The chances are there will be a 15 minute period where you'll use much more than that. In fact if you have the AC, the washing machine, TV, Oven, pool pump and the lights running you'll be using more like 10 kW meaning your demand billing charge will be $80.

If you switch to this plan try and spread your usage out rather than turning on everything in your house at the same time. This plan has the potential to lower your electricity bill.

If you want to know more, you can read residential all electric service rate.

How do I work out if I am on the cheapest CPS rate plan for my usage pattern?

Without knowing your exact usage it's hard to say what the cheapest plan is for a particular household. However, if you are on the RE plan, try to switch to the RA plan. These two plans are basically the same, except you'll pay less for all kWh over 600 kWh in the winter months on the RA plan.

To do an exact rate comparison requires collecting your detailed usage data for the last 12 months. This is known as Interval Data and sometimes also called Green Button Data.

HINT: Often the easiest way to get this data is to ask a solar company to get it for you as they need to retrieve this data in order to properly estimate the costs and savings that might be available to you by installing solar panels in the CPSarea.

How do I get my interval data for the last 12 months?

This data is available from CPS electric. You can ring them and they are required by law to send it to you, but you will probably be on hold for a long time and it will take forever.

However, if you own your home and it is a single family dwelling then a really good way to get this data for free is to request solar quotes from local solar companies.

Generally solar offers much bigger savings than swapping plans (as the plans are designed to give the same overall cost to average consumers) and a solar designer will usually need to get this same data to work out what size solar system would cover your bill and to forecast savings accurately for you.

Solar companies will usually retrieve and analyze your interval electricity usage data for free in the hope of winning your solar business.

 

Interval Data
Green Button data

 

Interval or Green Button data is your electrical usage data for the last 12 months in one hour (or even shorter) intervals. This data is available from your utility provider.

How much can I save per month by swapping to my cheapest plan?

For most people the amount you can save by swapping plans is minimal because the electricity plans are approved by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and are designed to work out roughly the same in terms of total costs for consumers with average consumption patterns.

In most cases savings will be between $0-$15 per month but could be much larger for high energy users or for homes and businesses with non-typical usage patterns.

If you really want to save money on your electricity bills, go solar.

Solar has a 8-10 year payback period in Texas. This means if you purchase a system it will take around 8-10 years to pay for itself. Then the system will provide you with 15-17 years of free power. Solar is the best investments you can make to lower power bills, saving you tens of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the system.

Going solar has never been easier, and the available incentives make it the perfect time. Solar is a no-brainer, talk to local solar installers about your options or use this free calculator to see how much solar can save you.

Find out how to reduce your CPS electricity bill.