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Free Nighttime Electricity At Night In Texas?

[Update] This is an important comment from reader JimBouton:

I was actually on this plan for about a year. It would be generous to say that it was a rip off. TXU misleads you by not including the TDU (transmission and other fees in their rate.) They are one of the only electric companies in Texas that pulls this scam.

It works out that their rate for “day time” clocks in around 24 cents per kwh when you include all of the fees. In Texas, you can generally get a year contract (with TDU) at around 8 to 11 cents per kwh. It is more than double, especially considering the monthly fee they charge ($9.95.) And, their cancellation fee is $290, regardless of when you cancel.

I thought this would be a great plan for me with my solar panels. The problem in Texas is that our early evenings are so hot. My panels would not provide enough electricity from the 5 pm to 9 pm hours, and you are paying more than double for that electricity.

I am now with Green Mountain. They offer 11 cent per kwh (includes the TDU), no monthly fee, no cancellation charge. Plus, they match my solar generation at the same price they charge me. Plus, 100% wind energy.

Owing to the nighttime overproduction of electricity via wind energy infrastructure in Texas, a fair number of utility companies in the Lone Star State have begun offering access to free electricity at night — mostly between the hours of 9 pm and 6 am — according to recent reports.

For some further explanation here, it’s worth remembering that Texas has its own electric grid, so production there is essentially only used there… or not — hence the offer of free time nighttime use. It should also be remembered that the use of free nighttime electricity access to users can thereby allow some grid burdens to be reduced.

wind turbines texas

Though this news may come as a surprise to some, Texas is, after all, actually the biggest wind energy generator in the US — nearly 10% of its current electricity generation is via wind energy projects. So nighttime generation levels are fairly high just with wind energy alone, regardless of other generating infrastructure that may be active.

There are further details available in the New York Times‘ coverage, for those interested.

As noted by “mspohr” on the Tesla Motors Club forum, this development could be a sign of things to come in other states/regions with substantial wind electricity generation infrastructure.

As also noted in that conversation, such a situation could probably work out quite well for those with an energy storage system and a grid connection — simply allowing such owners to charge their systems at night when electricity is free, and thereby avoid most electricity costs altogether.

That conversation turned into a bit of an argument on the merits of using energy storage systems (such as Tesla’s Powerwall) in places that get as hot as central Texas does — with some arguing that Tesla’s system isn’t well suited to the region, and others stating that it’s a simple fix, just locate the system in a climate controlled space, or in a basement (in parts of West Texas this may be more of an option than in the more flood-prone regions).

Interesting topic. Anybody in Texas care to comment? Anybody making use of the offer, and happy to be able to charge their electric vehicle for free at night?

Image by Chrishna (some rights reserved)

Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.


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